A year on Cyclone Freddy victims still helpless: Over 660 000 homeless, 2 million going hungry

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A year on Cyclone Freddy victims still helpless: Over 660 000 homeless, 2 million going hungry
A year on Cyclone Freddy victims still helpless: Over 660 000 homeless, 2 million going hungry

Africa-Press – Malawi. Victims of last year’s Cyclone Freddy continue to face the effects as details have emerged that over 660 000 are still homeless one year later while two million others risk hunger after their crops were washed away.

On Wednesday, the glaring scars were refreshed when President Lazarus Chakwera presided over the Cyclone Freddy Memorial Service in Mulanje District.

During the service, the President recalled that the cyclone killed more than 670 while 537 others are missing.

He said the country lost productive citizens that have left gaps in their respective roles and called for unity in helping the survivors.

Said Chakwera: “The death of 679 people at once is not ordinary. We should also not forget the 537 people that were swept away by flood waters and are still missing.

“These were our relatives in this country and since their departure, we have been in pain.”

The President also said that about two million people whose crops were washed away by the cyclone are at risk of hunger while 659 278 are reeling from the pain of losing their homes.

He pledged the government’s commitment to complete reconstructing all infrastructure, including roads, bridges and health facilities that were damaged.

“We should also remember that weather conditions are not over. Last week I declared a State of Disaster due to El Nino which has affected 23 districts where the maize crops will be affected due to climate change,” he added.

The President also used the opportunity to condemn mob justice and warned against ill-treating children and the elderly.

Paramount Chief Kaduya said the cyclone affected more than 62 000 households, 37 233 of whom sought shelter in camps in Phalombe District. About 211 died, 134 were injured while 14 roads and nine health facilities were damaged.

Speaking on behalf of international non-governmental organisations, Amref country director Hester Nyasulu pledged continued support to the affected families.

“We need to take time to reflect on the Cyclone Freddy that we had; to think through on how as a country we can be more prepared and how we can be bouncing back when we experience such climate shocks,” he said.

Nyasulu also condemned mob justice as well as warned those that ill-treat the elderly and children.

In March 2023, Malawi experienced one of the worst tropical cyclones on record which developed in the Western Indian Ocean and moved eastwards, influencing torrential rains over the southern part of Malawi.

Following the heavy rains, multiple flood events were reported in Blantyre, Mulanje, and Thyolo districts on March 12, 2023 and the following day flash floods led to multiple debris flows and other landslides in Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, and Phalombe districts.

Department of Disaster Management Affairs data showed that at least 2.2 million people were affected, including more than 659 000 were displaced while over 530 declared missing by mid-March 2023.

A comprehensive Post-Disaster Needs Assessment estimated the cost of the loss at $506.7 million (about K886.7 billion) while the cost of recovery and reconstruction was pegged at $680.4 million (about K1.2 trillion).

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