Tropical Cyclone Freddy: Malawi 2023

The Situation

Tropical Cyclone Freddy has swept across southern Africa. It first struck Madagascar and Mozambique in late February, but caused only limited damage in landlocked Malawi. The storm then moved back out over the Indian Ocean, where it drew more power before making a course reversal to southern Africa’s mainland, lashing Malawi with unprecedented force and severity. Meteorologists say that the cyclone is exceptional in its duration, and that it has characteristics consistent with warnings about climate change.

Malawi flooding - habitat for humanity

The death toll from this disaster across southern Africa has risen to over 400 (320 accounted in Malawi alone), with several hundreds still missing. The number of people displaced in Malawi has reached over 180,000, with the number of households displaced now standing at over 40,000. Malawi is already experiencing the deadliest outbreak of cholera in the country’s history, with fears that the flooding could worsen the spread of waterborne diseases.

Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs reports 230,000 damaged homes. Apart from destroying crops and property, the unprecedented heavy rains affected electricity generation causing blackouts. Some roads and bridges were washed away, cutting off road access to some areas.


Our Work in Malawi

Habitat for Humanity has been present in Malawi since 1986. With expertise in Disaster Risk Reduction and Response, we have responded to multiple flooding events in the same area with early recovery and long-term recovery activities.

Habitat Malawi’s staff are trained in emergency distributions and technical assistance, and have successfully completed multiple projects for disaster resilient housing construction.

Many programs seek to improve sanitation status and well-being of people living in slums and rural communities by constructing sustainable and user-friendly facilities for water, sanitation and hygiene.


Malawi flooding - habitat for humanityResponding to Tropical Cyclone Freddy

Habitat Malawi is currently assessing the damage and providing support to families being relocated to safer land designated by the Government. Based on preliminary assessments, Habitat for Humanity Malawi needs 118,000 USD (£96,128) to distribute additional 2,000 Emergency Shelter Kits. It is estimated that a longer-term community recovery program could cost around 600,000 USD (£488,448) or more, depending on the needs and scale.

In 2015, Habitat started a disaster risk reduction program in the south of the country in response to heavy floods. Houses built by Habitat for Humanity have not been damaged during the current floods.

Habitat Malawi will be distributing emergency shelter kits, including construction materials and tools, and providing technical expertise to help people build temporary shelters. They will also provide NFI (Non-Food-Item) kits containing items like blankets and sleeping mats, and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) kits with items such as soap and water.



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