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CYCLONE FREDDY TEARS THROUGH MOZAMBIQUE AND MALAWI, DISPLACING THOUSANDS AND KILLING 100

Region of Concern: Mozambique; Malawi

Written By Rohit Shankar Ram; Edited by Cameron Munoz and Jennifer Loy

Date: March 13, 2023


Map of Hurricane Freddy Over Mozambique and Malawi[1]


Event: Cyclone Freddy landed on Mozambique and Malawi for the second time this month, raising its total number of casualties above 100 and displacing upwards of 9,900. More than half a million people are at risk of being affected by the tropical storm, with the Mozambican provinces of Zambezia, Tete, Sofala, and Nampula most at risk.[2] Over 10,000 Mozambicans await evacuation across 40 crisis centers. The tropical storm has brought down torrential rains, resulting in the large-scale destruction of houses and farms in the affected areas.[3] The prominence of mud houses in affected regions has exacerbated casualties by collapsing on residents under duress of landslides and harsh winds. Environmental damage and precautions from utility companies have led to power losses in affected areas. Cyclone Freddy is the longest tropical storm ever recorded, currently on its 36th day of activity.[4]


Significance: Cyclone Freddy presents a serious threat to civilian life in affected and vulnerable regions. Residents of affected areas are very likely to remain without electricity and power due to the record-breaking duration and intensity. The absence of telecommunications in affected areas indicates an almost certain chance that the number of casualties and injuries in affected regions is significantly higher than current estimates. Cyclone Freddy’s oscillation in and out of affected areas will likely discourage potentially premature evacuation efforts from the Mozambican and Malawian governments. This, in turn, is likely to overwhelm Mozambique’s evacuation centers further. The tropical storm's rapidly changing intensity is likely to result in areas being devastated faster than reactive countermeasures could address, warranting an emphasis on preventative measures.


Recommendations: International humanitarian organizations such as the International Red Cross and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund are encouraged to provide portable emergency generators to restore power to already affected areas. The United States Africa Command is urged to exercise their crisis relief responsibilities by aiding overwhelmed evacuation centers via airlift support. The Mozambican and Malawian Ministries of Energy are encouraged to provide affected citizens with informational materials regarding energy conservation. International organizations capable of monitoring the tropical storm in real-time such as the World Meteorological Organization, are encouraged to collaborate with the Mozambican and Malawian governments to best inform preemptive evacuation measures if Cyclone Freddy makes landfall for a third time. Farmers in affected areas are encouraged to focus on protecting crops capable of surviving temporary floods, such as rice and wheat, to minimize disruptions to food security. Both Ministries of Agriculture should subsidize the cultivation of such crops to ensure long-term resilience. Doing so would also mitigate the potential for future tornado landfalls to cause economic disruption due to both nations’ reliance on agriculture.

 

[1]RAMMB/Cira Meteosat-9” by the EUMETSAT licensed under CC BY 2.0

[2] Storm Freddy kills more than 100 on return to Mozambique, Malawi, Reuters, March 2023. https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/storm-freddy-kills-least-11-malawi-police-2023-03-13/

[3] Mozambique: Emergency Protection Update # 3 - Tropical Storm Freddy, ReliefWeb, March 2023. https://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/mozambique-emergency-protection-update-3-tropical-storm-freddy-march-11-2023

[4] Death toll climbs as Cyclone Freddy slams Malawi, Mozambique, AP News, March 2023. https://apnews.com/article/cyclone-freddy-mozambique-malawi-disaster-774c2ecd3baad9eb29dc227a15bd8b30

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