Tropical storm Filipo hits Mozambique exactly one year after devastating Cyclone Freddy left millions of people in urgent need – Oxfam responds

Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 13 Mar 2024

Millions of people have nothing left to eat but wild roots as they have lost their crops to repeated extreme weather

Just a year after Cyclone Freddy ravaged several parts of Malawi and Mozambique, tropical storm – Filipo – is expected to hit Mozambique but also trigger “above normal rains” in Malawi, compounding the already catastrophic situation millions of people are facing due to repeated climate shocks, warned Oxfam today.

Climate change has made dry spells and flash floods more intense and more prolonged, which has decimated crops and ripped people of their last ability to cope. Over six million people are already facing acute hunger, many surviving on wild roots.

“The consecutive disasters – first Cyclone Freddy then the harsh drought and localised flash flooding – have made it almost impossible for affected communities to recover and rebuild their lives”, says Machinda Marongwe, Oxfam in Southern Africa Programme Director.

“Whatever little crops people have tried planting in this growing season have been damaged either due to El Nino-induced six weeks of dry spells or by flash floods.”

“Most of the people are literary living each day at a time as they lost hope for a better and normal life since Cyclone Freddy devastated their homes and harvests”, says Zvidzai Maburutse, Oxfam in Southern Africa Humanitarian Lead.

Eliza Anthony from Malawi’s Chikwawa district whose family home was washed away by Cyclone Freddy floods says:

“Last week, we stayed a day without eating anything and the following day we survived on porridge only. This year has been harsh as well since all the crops that we planted have dried up.”

Jose Mucote – the Executive Director of Associacao Ajoago, Oxfam’s partner in Mozambique- says: “The same areas hit by Cyclone Fredy are currently experiencing the effects of El Nino [prolonged dry spells]. Because of the damage caused by Cyclone Freddy floods, many have nothing to eat now. Some have sold all their livestock to buy food, plunging themselves further into a poverty abyss”.

In Malawi, Oxfam’s partner Mandida Zunga, the Secretary of the Catholic Development Commission, says: “It is always a disheartening site visiting the affected communities because many have failed to rebuild their homes, and have no place to grow food. The dry spells have wilted their entire crops.

“The flooding brought rocks, stones and sand that has made it difficult for people to grow food again. Maize, beans and potatoes that people tried to plant are all drying because the sand is too hot”.

Cyclone Freddy – one of the deadliest storms to hit the African continent in the last two decades – killed over one thousand people, swept away entire villages, forcing thousands of people out of their homes and decimated over one million acres of crop land. The estimated loss and damage for both Malawi and Mozambique was USD0.5 and USD1.5 billion respectively. Recurrent extreme weather means that governments are just unable to cope with skyrocketing needs. They cannot rehabilitate billion dollars-worth of damaged public infrastructure such as roads, schools, and hospitals due to lack resources.

“It is times like these when climate financing is most needed, to build up practical and sustainable solutions for smallholder farmers and people impacted by repeated climate shocks. But rich polluting countries are still slacking leaving vulnerable population to continue pay the price for a problem they have done very little to cause”, adds Marongwe.

“Rich donors must immediately inject funds to meet the UN appeal for Malawi and Mozambique to help save lives now. Equally important, rich polluting nations must pay African countries for their climate loss and damage, so that they can help their communities rebuild their lives and get out of this consecutive cycle of destruction”.

Oxfam urgently needs eight million Euros to scale up its operation to reach 600 thousand people across both countries with cash crops inputs and livestock, as well as rehabilitate water sources and support women and girls.

For interviews, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099 /