A flooded homestead in Malawi

Concern provides vital supplies to those left homeless by cyclone in Malawi

Concern Worldwide’s team in Malawi is assessing the damage and preparing to distribute emergency supplies to people left homeless in the wake of Cyclone Freddy. 

The cyclone reached southern Malawi on Monday, dropping the equivalent of a month’s rain in just 24 hours.  Over 50,000 homes were damaged or affected and 84,000 people were forced to flee their homes.  

Bridges, roads, and power lines have been damaged, disrupting transportation and communication networks, leaving affected areas cut off and hampering the rescue operation. Smallholder farmers have had their fields inundated and crops destroyed, with livestock and other household assets lost to the floods. 

“Concern has pre-positioned a range of essential supplies in the region, such as plastic sheeting, blankets and mosquito nets,” Concern’s Malawi Country Director Lucy Mwangi said. “We are working with the local authorities and other non-government organizations to have these distributed to those in need.” 

Some 225 people are reported to have died as a result of the cyclone.  This figure is expected to rise in the coming days as more areas are reached.  “Concern teams are helping in efforts to assess the scale of the cyclone damage,” Ms. Mwangi said. 

“While the cyclone has been downgraded to a tropical storm and expected to move away from Malawi later today, the emergency will not be over for many communities as rain from upland areas continues to flood downstream areas over the coming days,” she said. 

Many people had heeded early warnings and left flood prone areas in advance of the cyclone’s arrival. A number of camps for displaced people have been established and will receive supplies as part of Concern’s response. In Nsanje, 24 camps have been commissioned to house 4,502 households whose homes have been destroyed or damaged. In Chikwawa, 21 camps will host 8,837 households. 

In addition to the cyclone damage, Malawi was already dealing with the largest cholera outbreak in its history before the floods. Challenges of access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation under the flood conditions are likely to further exacerbate the outbreak.