Malawi: A Warm Winter for Women and Girls Displaced By Tropical Cyclone Freddy

Mulanje, MALAWI – As dark clouds rolled over Ng’omba village in Mulanje, Daliso Simon gathered her harvest in a rush, as she didn’t want to get caught in the impending storm. All week, her village had been battered by strong winds and heavy rains induced by the devastating Tropical Cyclone Freddy.

“I couldn’t go out, as it was raining heavily,” said Ms. Simon, who is seven months pregnant. “When I saw a bit of sunshine, I went into my garden to collect some fresh maize. But as soon as I did, the weather changed again.”

Incessant rains in Mulanje district had already caused damages to infrastructure in many communities. In Ng’omba village, the majority of the mud-built houses were starting to develop cracks, and many had lost their roofs in high winds.

More destruction as cyclone descends

Ms. Simon’s house had withstood these difficult conditions so far – but not for long. That evening, strong winds ripped off her roof and let in sheets of water that flooded the house, forcing her to run for shelter.

She grabbed a few belongings and strapped her two-year-old baby on her back.

“I had seen many houses in the village collapsing and didn’t want to wait for that to happen before I moved to safety,” she said.

Drenched and cold, she joined hundreds of others from her village who sought refuge at a nearby school.

“When I reached the school, my body was pain,” she said. “I needed a place to rest but the classrooms were overcrowded. I sat in a corner and someone was kind enough to give me a dry blanket.”