Malawi – Over 40 Dead as Rainy Season Takes Its Tolls

Disaster authorities in Malawi report that over 40 people have died as a result of severe weather in the country since the start of the rainy season in November 2022.

Rain damaged homes in Malawi, November 2022. Photo: Department of Disaster Management Affairs, Malawi

Severe weather has affected parts of the country since around 18 November 2022 when storms, heavy rain and hail caused damage to homes in several districts including Lilongwe. Two fatalities were reported in Mchinji.

As of 25 November, The country’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) reported 13 people had died as a result of recent severe weather, including 8 from lightning strikes and 5 who died when buildings collapsed due to heavy rain, floods or storms.

By 23 December, DoDMA reported storms, heavy rains, floods, strong winds, hailstorms and lightning have affected a total of 9,321 households (approximately 41,944 people) across 24 council areas: Balaka, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Chitipa, Dedza, Dowa, Karonga, Kasungu, Lilongwe District, Machinga, Mangochi District, Mchinji, Mulanje, Mzimba, Mzuzu City, Neno, Nkhotakota, Nsanje, Ntcheu, Ntchisi, Phalombe, Salima, Thyolo and Zomba District. Damage to homes, roads, schools and hospitals was reported.

The government has delivered relief supplies including food, family tents, housing units, kitchen utensils and plastic sheets for temporary roofing to around affected 8,227 households, with the provision of relief assistance ongoing.

According to DoDMA, in the period from November to 23 December, 28 people died in lightning strikes, while a further 14 lost their lives when buildings collapsed.

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), issued a severe warning for heavy rains in Chikwawa, Nsanje and other lakeshore areas from 21 December 2022. On 23 December a Flood Alert was issued for the Shire River Basin. As of 03 January, flood warnings were in place for Phalombe, Mulanje, Nsanje, Chikwawa and parts of Lilongwe. The rainy season in Malawi usually runs from November to April.

The country is currently suffering an outbreak of cholera. Around 600 people have died since March. Recently authorities delayed the opening of schools in the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre due to increasing cases.

Rain damaged homes in Malawi, November 2022. Photo: Department of Disaster Management Affairs, Malawi