Flow Communications

Cyclone Freddy was a deadly storm that traversed the Indian Ocean in early 2023, making landfall in Mozambique twice, killing more than 130 people and affecting over a million.

When Cyclone Freddy hit, ForAfrika sprang into action. It is the largest African-born humanitarian aid organisation, and an implementing partner for the UN. Along with saving lives, ForAfrika wanted to establish itself as an authoritative African voice in humanitarian assistance.

Flow’s crisis communications did just that: ForAfrika was quoted in 100-plus online news articles, including by Reuters and National Public Radio in the US, reaching 1.3-billion people in March 2023.

Opportunity statement

ForAfrika has staff across Mozambique, one of the seven African countries in which the humanitarian assistance organisation has offices.

This means that when Cyclone Freddy unleashed its fury across Mozambique – twice – ForAfrika staff were already on the ground, working in the affected areas. Not only were they already there to help the affected people, they could give first-hand reports of the unfolding crisis.

ForAfrika wanted two main things from its crisis communications:

  • To raise funds for its relief efforts in Mozambique, where hundreds of thousands of people were suddenly left homeless due to the flooding the cyclone caused

  • To establish itself as an authoritative African voice able to convey the experiences and the needs of affected Mozambicans, and – in the future – in the other six African countries in which it works


Flow and ForAfrika issued several brief news alerts that demonstrated the organisation’s staff were on the ground in Mozambique and could provide first-hand accounts of conditions, and of the situation as it unfolded.

Because news alerts are brief, they take less time to write, be approved and issued, allowing for speedier communication with the media.

Through these punchy alerts, Flow intended to convey the message that ForAfrika was an organisation in the thick of the practical logistics challenge of providing humanitarian assistance.

We knew we could send more of the alerts than we would have been able to send lengthy media releases without annoying media organisations – they did not have to scour the releases for facts, as the alerts were purely made up of facts and no “padding”.

In order to speed up receiving facts from fieldworkers, writing content, getting approvals and releasing each alert, Flow added its public relations team to the Flow-ForAfrika WhatsApp group. This step proved inspired.

Our aim was to prompt interview requests. It worked. In preparation for this, we alerted and prepared selected ForAfrika staff in Mozambique to be ready for media interviews. When it transpired that one of the staff appeared nervous on-screen, Flow moved quickly to give him media training – which meant that his second interview was far more polished. This also worked very well.


Our chief aim – to establish ForAfrika as an authoritative voice on the unfolding Cyclone Freddy crisis – was met.

ForAfrika’s staff in Mozambique were interviewed by Al Jazeera English and Radio Islam International, and ForAfrika was quoted in more than 100 online news articles, including by Reuters, the Tunis Afrique Press News Agency, France24.com and the United States’ National Public Radio.

  • AVE: R16.7-million
  • Reach: 1.3-billion people

(Figures courtesy ForAfrika’s media monitoring company, Novus.)

Flow’s efforts to share real, on-the-ground news during this crisis bore fruit, positioning ForAfrika as a leader in the humanitarian space, while soliciting donations (more than R100 000 to directly aid victims of Cyclone Freddy, in addition to increased general donations).

It is hard to celebrate these successes when so many lives and livelihoods were lost, but Flow is proud to have been part of a team doing purpose-driven work in difficult conditions, touching many lives.