Madagascar – Thousands Displaced by Tropical Cyclone Freddy

Over 8,000 people have been displaced in Madagascar after Tropical Cyclone Freddy made its way across the country from 21 to 22 February 2023. the storm is expected to make landfall in Mozambique in the coming days.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCEGIBS/Worldview, and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)

A weakened Tropical Cyclone Freddy landed about 30 km north of the town of Mananjary on the evening of 21 February 2023, with average winds estimated at 130 km/h and gusts of 180 km/h near the centre.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), although it weakened before landfall, Cyclone Freddy brought devastating winds, mainly to Vatovavy Region.

The extent of damage and impact is still being assessed. At least four fatalities were reported: one in the Atsinanana region (Mahanoro district) and three in the Haute Matsiatra region (Fianarantsoa district).

According to the disaster management agency in the country (Bureau National de Gestion des Risques et des Catastrophe or BNGRC), as of 22 February, the storm had affected 16,709 people across the regions of Vatovavy-Fitovinany, Atsimo-Atsinanana and Amoron’i Mania. As many as 8,644 people from 1,877 households were displaced and moved to 37 shelter sites.

The World Food Programme said it provided thousands of hot meals to evacuated persons in shelters in Nosy Varika, Farafangana, Mananjary, Mahanoro and Manakara from 21 to 22 February. The Malagasy Red Cross said teams are also in the area to provide emergency assistance.

BNGRC said around 2,276 homes and 79 schools have been flooded. At least 14 homes and 6 schools have been destroyed by the storm.

Airports and national roads and secondary roads were closed but have since reopened.

Damage after Cyclone Freddy, Madagascar, February 2023. Photo: Croix-Rouge Malagasy

Cyclone Freddy’s 7,000 km Journey

Since forming near Indonesia on 06 February, Tropical Cyclone Freddy has travelled about 7,200 kilometres across the Indian Ocean, according to the UK Met Office.

In a report of 21 February, NASA said, “The 15-day lifespan of the cyclone is unusual; few cyclones travel so far and are sustained for so long. The longest-lived tropical cyclone in the southern hemisphere was Leon-Eline in 2000, which was sustained for 18.5 days and travelled a similar path to Freddy.”


Tropical Cyclone Freddy is now heading across the Mozambique Channel and is projected to make landfall between Govuro and Vilankulo in the Inhambane province of Mozambique on 24 February.

On 21 February, the Mozambique Council of Ministers declared a red alert enabling response operations to be expedited and simplified.

The UNOCHA said the confluence of multiple climatic events is threatening the southern and central regions of the country.

Severe flooding struck southern parts of the country including the capital Maputo earlier this month. In the last few days, heavy rain was reported in Niassa, Tete and Zambezia provinces.

The country is also struggling to contain an outbreak that since September 2022 affected more than 5,200 people across 28 districts in Niassa, Gaza, Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambezia provinces.

Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGD) estimates that flooding in central and southern Mozambique – including following Cyclone Freddy’s landfall – might affect up to 1.75 million people. Some 1.5 million people are at risk of flooding in central Mozambique which is projected to affect the cities of Beira and Quelimane and an additional 250,000 people are at risk of flooding in southern Mozambique including in the cities of Maputo, adjoining Matola and Xai-Xai (Gaza province).

According to the UN, since October 2022, the rainy/cyclonic season impacted a total of 100,332 (18,633 families), across Mozambique. Some 4,050 houses have been partially destroyed, 1,839 totally destroyed, and 12,453 flooded. Widespread damages to public infrastructure and service have also been reported, including 1,012 schools, 55 health units and 3,489km of roads. In Maputo, following heavy rains, 43,426 people were affected, including 16,588 people displaced and 13 deaths. A total of 8,684 houses were flooded, 35 health units and 684 schools were damaged, 63,091 hectares of agricultural land were affected, and two bridges were washed away.