Press Release


19 March 2023

Nearly 363,000 people are displaced and sheltering in over 500 camps across flood-affected areas of Malawi, and the death toll has risen to 447, with at least 282 people still missing.

(Lilongwe, 19 March 2023): The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Martin Griffiths, has released US$5.5 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to assist people affected by the Tropical Cyclone Freddy weather system in Malawi, as the devastating toll of floods and mudslides in the country’s Southern Region continues to rise.

Speaking after visiting flood-affected areas on 16 March, the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malawi, Ms. Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, said: “The destruction and suffering that I witnessed in southern Malawi is the human face of the global climate crisis. The people I met with—many of whom have lost their homes and loved ones—have done nothing to cause this crisis. We, as the United Nations, stand in full solidarity with the people of Malawi at this tragic time and we call on the international community to do the same.”

Nearly 363,000 people are displaced and sheltering in over 500 camps across flood-affected areas of Malawi, and the death toll has risen to 447, with at least 282 people still missing, according to authorities on 18 March. Some 75,000 hectares of cropland has been flooded, just as farmers were about to harvest the only crop of the year. These figures are expected to rise in the days ahead as further information becomes available, especially in areas where people remain trapped by the flood waters and full information is not yet available.

The Government of Malawi is leading the response, with support from humanitarian partners. More than 1,500 people have been rescued from isolated locations and, as flood waters begin to subside, assistance is being dispatched to the hardest-hit districts.

“People are traumatized, and many have lost their homes, their belongings and their livelihoods,” said Ms. Adda-Dontoh. “In support of the Government-led response, through this CERF grant, we will aim to assist those who have been hardest-hit with life-saving and life-sustaining assistance, including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), shelter and vital non-food items, food, healthcare and prevention of gender-based violence and child protection risks.“

Southern Malawi was affected after Tropical Cyclone Freddy made its second landfall in Mozambique on 11 March and moved over land as a tropical depression, bringing torrential rainfall, devastating floods and mudslides to Malawi from 12 March. Malawi is also still facing its deadliest cholera outbreak in recent history, and there is a high risk that the disease could spread in flood-affected areas

UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi

Rebecca Adda-Dontoh

UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi
Ms. Rebecca (Becky) Adda-Dontoh of Ghana has been the UN Resident Coordinator in Malawi since 10th December 2022. She is a Communications, Peacebuilding and Development practitioner with a cumulative 30+ years of service with national public service, civil society/NGOs and the UN, in development, conflict, transitional and humanitarian contexts in Ghana, Philippines, Nigeria, Malawi, The Gambia and Bangladesh.

Prior to becoming UN RC, she served as a Senior Peace and Development Advisor to UN Country Teams in Bangladesh, The Gambia and Malawi. Prior to that, she was in senior management positions as Deputy Director in the public service of her home country Ghana (Centre for National Culture); Conflict Prevention Programme Manager with Nonviolent Peaceforce in Mindanao, Philippines; and Peace Adviser with the German Association for Development Cooperation (AGEH) in Plateau State, Nigeria. Before then, she founded and led Mothers for Active Non-Violence (MOFAN-V), a women’s peace and development NGO; and was a Consultant for UNDP Ghana and the Ministry of Interior in the establishment and training of Ghana’s nascent Peace Architecture structures. Her footprints can be found in peace and development Policies and Laws in Ghana, Malawi, and The Gambia.

Ms. Adda-Dontoh has a Master of Arts degree in Public Relations and Public Communications from the University of Westminster. She is from Ghana and is a proud mother of two young adults.

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