10 Jan 2015 23:00
Malawi, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has seen devastating floods in the southern part of the country. In some areas, a month’s worth of rain came down in 24 hours at the beginning of the rainy season, leaving villages, roads, bridges and fields destroyed. The death toll is estimated to be anywhere between dozens and nearly two-hundred, while 14,000 households are known to be displaced (an estimated 70.000 people). However, some areas have yet to be reached, so these figures are expected to rise.
The government of Malawi has declared fifteen southern districts disaster zones and has appealed for international aid. To British government has already dedicated GBP 3.8 million to help rescue and rebuilding efforts, and many other governments are soon to follow.
The aid operation carried out by the Government of Malawi, the military and a range of international organisations, MSF and UNICEF having a prominent presence among them, is in full speed. The Malawian army is leading the evacuation of affected and vulnerable communities, using boats and helicopters, and improvised camps are being set up with tents and medical facilities. As always after flooding, prevention of waterborne diseases such as cholera is priority.
Bad weather continued to hinder the aid operations until Friday 16 January when the rain ceased. However, rising temperatures made for uncomfortable circumstances in the camps and outside.
The Malawian Police Force is setting up Victim Support Units and Child Protection units in the camps, while the international agencies such as UNICEF and UNFPA provide blankets, tents and food, and also first aid for rape cases and safe delivery kits. MSF is also participating, setting up and operating a mobile health clinic.