Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, yesterday declared a state of disaster for areas of the country affected by the recent floods.
In his statement he said that floods have affected the districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe Zomba; Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Mulanje, Balaka, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Salima, Rumphi and Karonga. The worst affected districts are thought to be Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Zomba and the district of Mangochi, where it is thought that many of the deaths occurred.
Government sources estimate that around 70,000 people from around 14,000 families or households have been displaced by the flooding.
In his statement the president said that 48 people are believed to have been killed in the floods that first struck in Malawi during late December 2014.
The floods have also caused widespread damage to crops and livestock, as well as to infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
Appeal for Aid and Relief
Government authorities and relief agencies have been providing assistance to those affected. However, with the scale of the floods now apparent and further heavy rainfall forecast, the president called on the international community for outside help.
In his statement he said:
I fully appreciate all previous assistance Malawi has received when affected by disasters. However, I appeal for humanitarian assistance, from the International donor community, the relevant United Nations agencies, the Non Governmental Organisations, the local private sector as well as all fellow citizens of goodwill, so that, together, we can contribute in alleviating suffering on the part of people affected by the floods. Tents and food are urgently required. Rescue operations are also a priority.
World’s Media Start to Pay Attention
The worsening flood situation in Malawi and the president’s statement appear to have alerted the attention of media from the outside world. Reuters, BBC, AFP and AP have all recently published reports on the flood situation.
Power Supply Cut, Flood Zones Inaccessible
However, finding reliable information on the current situation remains problematic. Different news sources have varying figures on the number of those displaced or killed. The Malawi government said that assessment of the impact of the floods is a problem currently because most of the affected areas are inaccessible.
Furthermore, storms have cut power supply in some areas for the last 2 days. Numerous official and news websites have been offline. Many of our contacts in the area are struggling to send us information simply because they don’t have electricity.
The full statement by the president can be seen here.