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Responding to a “triple crisis” in southeastern Africa after Cyclone Freddy

Aug 23, 2023

In February and March, against the backdrop of a cholera outbreak in Mozambique and Malawi and severe food insecurity in parts of those countries as well as of Madagascar, the most energetic and longest-lasting tropical storm ever recorded hit the region. Cyclone Freddy destroyed homes, livelihoods, and infrastructure, leaving in its wake deepening food and health crises and increased risks related to poverty, gender-based violence, and trafficking.

Madagascar has one of the highest rates of poverty in the world, and UNICEF’s latest survey data from the country revealed that 82.9% of children—11.6 million of 14 million—were living below the poverty line and half of children under five were suffering from malnutrition that stunted their growth. Malawi, where approximately 70% of people live below the poverty line, was experiencing the deadliest cholera outbreak in its history when Freddy struck, sickening around 59,000 to date across every district in the country. In Mozambique, where over 62% of people live in poverty, also saw tens of thousands of cases of cholera, and against this backdrop, Freddy made land multiple times, directly affecting at least a million people.

In response, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) made grants to three organizations focused not only on responding to the immediate needs generated by the storm, but to the longer-term crises it exacerbated—both of which are linked to the global climate change that has increasingly buffeted the region with natural disasters. Each of these organizations works closely with local community or government partners to effectively target real and evolving needs.

  • In Malawi, Trócaire is providing psychosocial support, helping rebuilding housing, supplying food and hygiene items, rehabilitating sanitation infrastructure, and providing access to safe, clean water.

  • In Madagascar, Pivot is identifying and treating cases of acute and moderate malnutrition in children, training community health workers and raising community awareness around malnutrition, and providing related supplies.

  • In Mozambique, Doctors with Africa CUAMM is working to stem a cholera outbreak by providing prevention kits to families, training health workers, and intervening rapidly at the household and community levels when cases arise, in collaboration with local social workers, district authorities, and community leaders.

Emergency response and rebuilding after natural disasters have been a consistent focus of SNF’s grantmaking throughout its history.