“The situation is bad”: AMECEA Leadership Appeals for Malawi Cyclone Survivors

Victims of Cyclone Freddy in Malawi. Credit: Sant'Egidio Community

The Bishop at the helm of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) has described the situation of those who have survived the Tropical Cyclone Freddy in Malawi as “bad”.

In his statement shared with ACI Africa Monday, March 20, Bishop Charles Kasonde appeals for support for those who have survived the deadly cyclone from the national Bishops’ Conferences in the AMECEA region in what he calls “regional pastoral solidarity with the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM).”

According to Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), 508,2444 people have been displaced by the Cyclone, another 499 have died and 427 are missing. 

“Even though the cyclone has weakened, the situation is bad as lack of proper shelter and poor sanitation exposes the survivors to diseases, especially cholera and malaria,” Bishop Kasonde says.

The Local Ordinary of Zambia’s Solwezi Diocese in Zambia adds, “As we continue to pray for the victims, in the spirit of solidarity as AMECEA, let us reach out to our suffering brothers and sisters in Malawi who need our assistance.”


“I make a fervent appeal to all Conferences in the region to find ways of reaching out to our brothers in Malawi in response to this emergency situation,” he says in reference to the Catholic Bishops in Malawi.

In his March 20 message, the Chairman of the regional Association that brings together Catholic Bishops in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia extends his appeal to individuals and corporates who, he says, can contact the Nairobi-based AMECEA Secretary General via email for guidance on how to channel their contributions. 

Bishop Kasonde says the Cyclone, which dissipated on March 14 not only displaced people but also destroyed Church, government, and private property. 

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Malawi, Cyclone Freddy “dumped the equivalent of 6 months of rainfall in 6 days.” 

Malawi’s capital, Blantyre, was reportedly most affected by the cyclone, which the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) described as a “very rare” storm with an “incredible and dangerous” journey.

More in Africa

Following the natural disaster, Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, declared the affected parts of the country as being in a “state of disaster.” 

In a Press Release dated March 13, President Chakwera also appealed for local and international support for all the families affected by the tropical storm.

On their part, Catholic Bishops in Malawi called on all Catholics and people of goodwill “to stand and feel with the victims of this devastating cyclone and immediately start to donate whatever they can, in form of money and in kind, to help the victims who have been affected and are suffering from the effects of the cyclone.”

“Because of the huge scale of the calamity and the immensity of the exercise,” members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) said in their March 14 statement, the distribution of the collected donations “should be done as soon as possible.”

In his March 20 statement, the Chairman of AMECEA acknowledges with appreciation those who have already responded to the appeal for help since the Cyclone Freddy struck.


“I am encouraged to learn that the Holy Father Pope Francis, European and United States governments and international Catholic organizations such as Trocaire have already responded to the calls of the Malawi government and ECM for emergency response,” he says.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Malawi’s Lilongwe Archdiocese directed that all the Sunday, March 19 collections from the 46 Parishes of his Metropolitan See be sent to ECM’s Malawi Flood Emergency Response bank account as part of the efforts to help the victims of the storm.

“I urge all the Priests and the laity to form special committees for this special Sunday Offertory and put on record what they will have collected. They should send to the Archdiocese Administration bank deposit slips for accountability purposes,” Archbishop George Desmond Tambala has been quoted as saying. 

Archbishop Tambala urged the people of God under his pastoral care to respond generously to his appeal, describing the Forth Sunday of Lent as “a Sunday of almsgiving”. 

“It is a Sunday of prayer, praying for our brothers and sisters but also it is going to be a Sunday of alms giving,” the Local Ordinary of Lilongwe Archdiocese who doubles as the President of the ECM said.

(Story continues below)

He added, “Let us all take part in this noble act of our faith. This is how we profess our faith in Christ and indeed pronounce our solidarity with those in need.”

Malawi has had tropical cyclones before. Last year, the nation was hit by Tropical Storms  Ana and Gombe, which affected some 994,967 people, according to the Malawi Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA).

Madagascar and Mozambique have also been affected by Cyclone Freddy.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.