Malawi’s President Seeks Urgent Aid Following Cyclone Freddy.


Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, has appealed to the international community for urgent help following the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy. The storm struck southern Africa twice, killing over 300 people and displacing hundreds of thousands more. Chakwera has called for helicopters to airlift foodstuffs and other equipment to the affected areas. He has also declared 14 days of mourning and pledged $1.5m in assistance. However, he has said that Malawi’s capacity to provide relief is limited and that international help is essential. Recovery from such a storm is impossible without it, he said.

Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit the coast of southern Africa for a second time over the weekend, causing devastation in Malawi and neighbouring Mozambique. At least 326 people have been confirmed dead in Malawi, bringing the overall number of fatalities across the region to over 400 since February. The lack of clean water is the most pressing issue, which could cause a cholera outbreak like the aftermath of Cyclone Anna in the country’s south last year.

As climate change causes warmer oceans, heat energy from the water’s surface is fuelling stronger storms. Freddy broke the world record for most accumulated cyclone energy, a measure based on a storm’s wind strength over its lifetime. Meteorologists say it might break two more records. Chakwera said that climate change is real and that what they are experiencing is devastation. He added that they are trying to do the best they can to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Rasmane Kabore, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Blantyre, said that shelter, blankets and amenities that will help with water and sanitation provision are needed urgently to prevent another outbreak of waterborne diseases. Yusuf Nthenda, member of parliament for Mulanje West, told Al Jazeera that some communities had yet to receive any aid and some of his constituents had no food to eat. In response, the president said that his government had begun providing help but some communities were inaccessible because roads have been washed away by mudslides.

Chakwera has called on the international community to help Malawi because what is happening to them can happen to anyone, anywhere. He said that they cannot afford to be going backwards instead of forward in terms of all the provisions that Malawians need. Recovering from such a storm cannot happen without international help, he added. His goal and desire is for everyone to be accounted for.