Malawi: IFRC launches Emergency Appeal to respond to the effects of Tropical Storm Freddy in Malawi

Red Cross volunteers in Malawi move with speed to assist in search and rescue operations, after Tropical Storm Freddy displaced families and washed away their homes.        Photo: Malawi Red Cross Society

Red Cross volunteers in Malawi move with speed to assist in search and rescue operations, after Tropical Storm Freddy displaced families and washed away their homes in March 2023.

Photo: Malawi Red Cross Society

Malawi, 21 March 2023After passing through Southern Africa for the second time this month, Tropical Storm Freddy swept through Southern Malawi on 12 March 2023, with strong winds and heavy rains leaving the affected districts in a state of disaster and affecting the power supply throughout most of the country. Tropical Storm Freddy is set to be the longest tropical system since 1994, having weakened and re-intensified seven times over the last month.

The Malawi government has declared a state of disaster in 10 southern districts that have been hardest hit by the storm. A large number of people are reported to have been affected, of which 101,648 households (approximately 508,244 people) have been displaced with 534 camps set to accommodate the displaced, according to reports from DoDMA. The death toll, which is currently at 499 (as of 20 March 2023), is expected to rise as 427 people are still unaccounted for since some areas remain cut off due to relentless rain and fierce wind.  

McBain Kanongodza, Secretary General for the Malawi Red Cross Society said:

 “We are grateful to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for the support through this emergency appeal. This support will go a long way to help the survivors recover from the shock of Tropical Cyclone Freddy devastation.” 

Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) is on the ground, with volunteers working in dangerous conditions, primarily conducting search and rescue by land, and in rescue boats. Volunteers are providing first aid and psychosocial support to those affected. Non-food items are also being distributed by MRCS to evacuation centres and hospitals.

John Roche, Head of IFRC’s Delegation for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe said:

 “The destruction left behind by Tropical Storm Freddy, which has displaced large numbers is a major concern, as we are also tackling a widespread cholera outbreak at the same time. We need to respond fast and ensure people have access to clean and safe drinking water to ensure that cholera does not spread beyond control.” 

The lack of sanitation and clean water sources, which increases the risk of contracting cholera, will be amplified after many homes have been washed away leaving displaced communities to be housed in camps. The number of people living in camps, may cause them to become hotspots for Cholera and waterborne diseases. In addition to risks of cholera, the floods have caused many communities to be cut off from food for many days, as well as causing widespread damage to farms, and death of livestock. Many of these areas were already suffering from significant food insecurity.

The IFRC and its membership has launched an Emergency Appeal seeking 6.0 million Swiss Francs, which will help the MRCS to assist up to 160,000 people over 5 districts, who have been affected by the severe impacts of Tropical Storm Freddy. Through the appeal, MRCS, and its partners with the IFRC will look to scale up their response to the impact of Tropical Storm Freddy. The response will focus on the immediate needs of families displaced and hosted in camps.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, contact:

In Malawi (IFRC):

In Pretoria (IFRC): Robyn Lee Doyle, +27605031833, [email protected]

In Nairobi (IFRC): Rita Nyaga, +2541 10 837154, [email protected]

In Geneva (IFRC): Tommaso Della Longa, +41-79-708 4367, [email protected]  

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