Children in urgent need of life-saving support as Cyclone Gombe batters Malawi barely a month after the devastating Storm Ana

Thursday 17 March 2022


14-Year-Old Elizabeth (Second from Left) Captured with her Grandmother and Brothers at their Dilapidated Home

LILONGWE, 17 March – Over 50,000 people, including 27,000 children, have been impacted by Cyclone Gombe, which struck southern Malawi on Monday. The storm hit four districts and killed at least seven people, and displaced at least 20,000. The impacted families include those who have lost their homes, livestock, or have been cut off by the destruction of roads and bridges.

The same community was only just starting to recover following Storm Ana which struck Malawi in early February, sweeping across 20 districts, claiming 46 lives, and impacting over 950,000 people including 500,000 children.

On Monday, 14thMarch 2022, over 50,000 people, including 27,000 children in southern Malawi recounted traumatic experiences of spending a night in floodwater following Cyclone Gombe which prompted heavy rains, burst river banks and flooded communities.

The floods from Cyclone Gombe washed away livestock, houses and property, and cut off crucial roads, hampering the delivery of aid and making search and rescue operations difficult. Children and families need shelter, food, clothing, dignity packs and medical supplies.

Cyclone Gombe also threatens to further disrupt children’s education, with schools already partly and in some cases fully closed following Storm Ana.

Elizabeth, 14, lost her home in Cyclone Gombe. She said:

“We need a proper house as the one we were staying in with my grandmother collapsed in the rainstorm. I came here to stay with her as she was staying alone and she needed support. But the rains have now separated us. I am now staying with my mother and that means my grandmother is not getting adequate support. I used to fetch water for her and wash and clean the house. I am so anxious about her well-being.

 “Our food and even crops have been wash away. It is difficult to attend school on an empty stomach.

 “I need support with my education. My books, school bag, some of my clothes, and the only pair of shoes I had were washed away. I am not going to school in the meantime”

Save the Children is concerned that southern Africa and the Indian Ocean has entered a destructive cyclone season, with multiple storms already hitting Malawi and neighboring countries this year. These extreme weather events are more frequent and severe due to the climate emergency.

Save the Children’s Country Director in Malawi, Kim Koch, said:

“The recurrent storms are threatening children's survival and well-being and the need to act is greater now than it has ever been. As Save the Children, we will do whatever it takes to ensure children survive, are protected and that they continue to learn.

“The storms are also threatening to undo decades of progress and have ushered a new urgency to invest in education, protection and healthcare systems.

“Several studies have suggested that climate change will increase the intensity of storms. It is critical for national and world leaders to urgently address the issue of climate change. Change is possible and a better world for children can be built, but we have to act now.”

Save the Children is already responding to the impact caused by Storm Ana and has reached over 30,000 children and their families through various activities like multi-purpose cash transfers, health outreach services, child protection activities and distribution of other essentials such as dignity packs, and handwashing materials. In response to Cyclone Gombe, Save the Children is preparing to scale up its response to reach newly impacted communities as well as those who have been double-impacted by the two storms.


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Lawrent Kumchenga

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