Flood-hit Malawi faces aid deficit
International help and pledges fall far short of the $65-million needed to deal with the disaster. UK-based churches’ global development agency Christian Aid is providing emergency assistance to deluged communities in Malawi, in the aftermath of the worst floods the country has seen in nearly two decades. More than 630,000 people have been affected, with 120,000 of these displaced by the torrential rain and flooding which hit the country’s southern districts a week ago, washing away homes, livestock, crops and roads.
Development agencies are working to provide 40,000 people in Nsanje and Chikwawa districts with access to clean water, toilets facilities and temporary shelter. Existing water sources such as boreholes and wells have been damaged or swept away, as have many public and household latrines. There are growing fears that the few remaining water sources could become contaminated, leaving communities exposed to the threat of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
Relief organizations will be building 50 latrines, distributing 1,800 water purification tablets and jerry-cans, and constructing or rehabilitating 200 emergency sanitation facilities – including water points – in the most vulnerable areas over the coming weeks.
Malawi is the worst affected of the three southeast African countries hit by heavy rainstorms, which started two weeks ago. Mozambique and Madagascar have also reported damage and deaths from floods.
Large areas in the south of the country are under water, and homes, crops and livestock have been washed away. President Peter Mutharika has declared 15 of the 28 national districts disaster zones. The government of impoverished Malawi has said it will need more than $65-million.
The rain continues to fall, making rescue operations difficult. Sixty-two Malawians are known to have died and 153 are missing, according to the government’s situation reports. The Malawi Defence Force has reportedly rescued at least 4 000 people, but there are fears that many more need help.
Malawi is a low income country ranked 170 out of 186 countries surveyed in the 2013 Human Development Index with a GNI per capita (Atlas Method) of US$ 320 in 2012. Despite high rates of economic growth, poverty in Malawi remains widespread. The third Integrated Household Survey (IHS3 2010/11) reports that over half of the population remains poor and one quarter is estimated to live in extreme poverty, with total expenditure below the food poverty line level (an income of MK 22,956 (US$ 146) or below per person per year).