It is no longer news that Malawi as a nation is suffering from effect of a massive flood. An estimated 121,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance (20,641 Several Households are displaced in the affected districts. Preliminary reports indicate 54 people are reported to be dead, 153 missing in the affected districts.The Department of Surveys estimates that 63, 531 houses have been submersed by flood waters as of 13 January 2015.Malawi Metrological services has indicated more rains and flooding are in forecast, indicating continued problems in new and already affected areas. The Malawi Defense Force is assisting in rescue operations using helicopters and marine boats, but bad weather is hampering efforts. Data available does not adequately capture the situation as some populations are still cut off and difficult to reach.
Situation impact and overview since 8 January 2015 Indicated that Malawi has been experiencing continuous heavy rains accompanied by stormy winds. Extensive flooding and heavy damage to life and property has been reported mainly across the southern part of the country.
The state president declared a state of disaster on 13 January 2015, and has appealed for international aid. The 15 affected districts (out of a total of 28 districts) are Nsanje, Chikwawa, Blanytre, Phalombe, Mulanje, Zomba, Machinga, Chiladzulu, Thyolo, Mangochi, Salima, Karonga, Balaka, Rumphi and Lilongwe. According to Government estimates, a total of 120,000 people (over 20,641 households) are displaced in the affected districts, and 53 deaths have been reported. About 153 people are reported to be missing. According to estimation by the Department of Surveys, 63, 531 ha have been submersed by flood waters as of 13 January 2015. Data available does not adequately capture the situation as some populations are still cut off and difficult to reach. The Government of Malawi in collaboration with the Red Cross, UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, and WFP) conducted a rapid assessment on 11 of January 2015.
The assessment aimed at identifying the immediate needs of the people affected by the floods as well as immediate extent of the damage. The assessment indicated that houses have collapsed, some completely and some partially; livestock has drowned, crops has been washed away; crop fields submerged; some parts of road networks have been washed away in some affected districts, resulting in inaccessibility to health facilities, schools and other public services. Due to poor sanitation in the affected areas, there is faecal contamination of drinking water, as boreholes have also been flooded. The Mkula hydro electrical power station, in Blantyre district has also been affected which has resulted into interrupted power supply in all districts. The education system has also been interrupted due to damaged school blocks and some schools being used to temporarily house affected families. Some health facilities have also been affected with damaged or roofs and infrastructure.Chikwawa and Nsanje were the hardest hit districts, with several people requiring rescue by military helicopters and marine boats.
Many of the displaced families are being housed in relocation camps (number not known yet) established by the Government, and managed by respective Civil Protection Committees. A total of 15 and 7 camps have been set up in Nsanje and Chikwawa respectively. The affected population is in urgent need of shelter, food, clean water and sanitation, health services and other essential non-food items.
In terms of response and gap Several organizations are working on the ground particularly in Chikwawa and Nsanje two of the worst affected districts addressing the numerous challenges caused by the disaster. These include the Malawi Red Cross, MSF Belgium, the UN system and World Vision. There are visibly no humanitarian actors in some districts notably Phalombe where the magnitude of the disaster is in equal proportion to that of Nsanje and Chikwawa.
The Department of Disaster Management is leading the response although with limited capacity and strained resources. Department of Disaster Management (DODMA) issued a statement yesterday in which they are calling for support from all stakeholders to alleviate the gross human suffering in the affected areas. Although several agencies have already started to respond to the call for support, the needs of the affected are great. There is an urgent need to provide shelter in the form of tents, food, sanitation, clean water, security, health and hygiene materials to affected victims. Menstrual hygiene is particularly of concern considering the limited sanitary facilities in the camps. Cases of violence have been reported in the camps. Cases of violence have been reported in the camps.
DODMA has since mobilized different stakeholders and sent a distress call for more assistance in provision of tents for shelter, food, water and sanitation especially for Phalombe where relief aid has not yet started flowing. The Malawi Defence Force is rescuing people on boats and helicopters. MSF is treating minor ailments, Red Cross has dug pit latrines. Using its stock of prepositioned Reproductive Health and dignity kits, UNFPA Malawi Country Office immediately responded by distributing the RH and dignity kits in some sites in the affected districts. Currently UNFPA Malawi Country Office has also moved in to support Malawi Government in collecting age and sex disaggregated data for effective planning and response to the disaster.
The Country office has just engaged RH and GBV Coordinators to be deployed in the worst affected region in order to strengthen RH and Gender responses in those affected areas.The current response is characterized by incomplete and unreliable data which is not disaggregated by age and sex. United Nations Population Funds through it Country Office in Malawi has proposed to reinforce its teams in the field to strengthen capacity to collect gender disaggregated data and to ensure that Reproductive Health needs is captured. Also Country office provide more supplies of hygiene kits and RH kits. In addition to these, it will provide full time Reproductive Health Coordinators and GBV Coordinators are being deployed in the affected areas. Country Office(CO)is to provide tents as service delivery points and safe areas for women who are victims of GBV.
CO is also to provide ambulances to facilitate referrals.The impact of UNFPA ‘ S Intervention is better appreciated when some of the affected people have these to say ‘I lost every during the floods. My biggest challenge is how to manage my menstrual cycle’ a teen age girl from Tchereni camp.‘The toilets are far away from where we are sleeping. We are afraid to walk to the toilets at night for fear of being raped. If toilets could be located close by , this could assist’, narrated a woman from Bangula camp.‘An entire health centre was submerged in water. All the health workers have been evacuated. This is also the area where over six thousand people are stranded. Some of them are pregnant women’ said DC from Nsanje’