Urgent call for assistance for southern Africa after cyclones and floods: climate shocks upend rural livelihoods

From the FAO Regional Office for Africa

©FAO/Fábio de Sousa

Nearly 10 million people have been affected by a series of climate disasters across the region between January and March 2023.

©FAO/Fabio de Sousa


Harare – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has launched an urgent call for assistance for southern Africa which has been hit by a series of climate disasters since the start of the year that have upended the lives of millions of people.

Between January and March 2023, Tropical Cyclone Freddy – the most energetic cyclone to ever be recorded – and Tropical Storm Cheneso battered Malawi, Madagascar and Mozambique. At the same time, Zambia experienced destructive storms and torrential rains that resulted in severe flooding. 

Critical social and economic infrastructure, fisheries equipment, livestock and hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops have been lost. Flooding also increased the movement of livestock and wild animals, triggering outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases. Overall, nearly 10 million people have been affected across the region. 

“The food security and rural livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable people in the region have been severely jeopardized,” said FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Patrice Talla.  “A scaled‑up and sustained emergency response is needed to enable people to pick themselves up and resume agricultural production,” he said.

FAO is requesting USD 247 million to support 2.5 million of the most vulnerable people in Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia struck by these climate shocks. Support will focus on restoring agricultural, fish and livestock production, along with conducting needs assessments and analyses to support a coordinated, scaled-up response. 

FAO's emergency response is outlined in a new publication launched today, the Subregional southern Africa: Climate hazards - Urgent call for assistance.

In the southern African region, more than 70 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.


Volantiana Raharinaivo FAO Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa [email protected]