ActionAid International strengthens resilience as Cyclone Freddy death toll rises in Malawi

ActionAid International—a global humanitarian organization operating in many countries including Malawi—says it is scaling up its interventions and working with local partners in the country “to urgently assess the impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, provide vital assistance to the worst affected survivors and support rescue efforts”. 

The organization has stated this in a press release dated 16th March, 2023, which has been made available to Nyasa Times.

Pamela Kuwali

Its gesture follow the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy which made a landfall in southern Malawi last weekend, raging through the region for days and causing gusty winds, heavy rainfall, mudslides and increased flooding.

Authorities put the death toll at 326 as of Friday, 17th March, 2023. They add the cyclone has displaced 183,159 people, with households displaced by the natural phenomenon now at 40,702.

Seven hundred and ninety-six people are injured and many more are missing.

In its press release, ActionAid International notes that “the devastating impact of the cyclone has left many people in dire need of humanitarian aid”.

This confession is mirrored in some of the victims, officials of the organization interacted with on the ground and their personal accounts of the devastation have been included in the press release.

Maria, who was displaced by the storm in Kampira village, said: “I have lost all my property. We are in urgent need of food, shelter, and clothing.”

Esther, another displaced person and survivor from Nyang’a Village, said: “My property and belongings have been washed away. As a result, I am currently displaced.”

Pamela Kuwali, Country Director of ActionAid Malawi, said: “The country is reeling from the impact of Cyclone Freddy. This is a community which was already under huge pressure before the cyclone hit, with a fifth of people in the country facing food insecurity, over 70 percent of people living below the poverty line and the deadliest outbreak of cholera experienced by Malawi underway. 

“Our priority now is to support partners working in the districts affected to undergo a rapid needs assessment to understand the scale of the damage. We are also involved with rescue efforts to find people who are missing.”

According to ActionAid International, the World Meteorological Organization continues to assess whether Tropical Cyclone Freddy is the longest-running tropical cyclone in history.

The press release, quoting reports by World Health Organization (WHO), says extreme weather conditions and climate events directly affected over half a million people in 2021 and increases the vulnerability of women and girls.

ActionAid International has, therefore, called on governments to make loss and damage funding a reality for groups with increased vulnerabilities and quotes the organization’s Global Lead for Climate Justice, Teresa Anderson, who said:

“The reality is that climate change is bringing ever more intense cyclones, floods, and storms. In Africa, the cyclone season has the potential to be deadly.

“Women, children and girls, are hit hardest by climate disasters. During the COP27 climate summit last year, wealthy states in the Global North pledged to set up a loss and damage fund so that countries can rebuild at the aftermath of severe weather events, such as Cyclone Freddy. Governments must act now to make this fund a reality and deliver for those on the frontline of climate chaos who can’t wait any longer.”

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. 

We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty,” the press release winds up.

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