Malawi Flood Survivors Slowly Pick Up Their Lives

Some 230,000 people were displaced and 276 reported dead or missing after the floods in Malawi earlier this year.

By Moses Michael-Phiri

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AA) – Life is no longer the same for Tally Losha.

Returning to his flood-battered area, the head teacher found his home destroyed and his classrooms filled with mud.

“Life will never be the same because I lost my wife and child to the floods,” Losha told The Anadolu Agency.

Southern Malawi’s Nsanje district, from which he hails, was one of the hardest hit by a spate of flashfloods that have bedeviled the country over the last two months.

The floods have left a trail of destruction in southern Malawi, washing away many local residents’ few possessions.

Some 230,000 people have been displaced and 276 reported dead or missing in what has been described as the worst bout of flooding since 1964, according to official figures.

Thousands of grass-thatched homes built by villagers have been swept away by the floods.

Agriculture and education have been the most affected, with over 181 schools being occupied by the displaced, affecting the education of over 300,000 children.

“Our schools are flooded; the classrooms are full of mud,” said Losha, head teacher at Chikonje Primary School.

“This whole area was flooded. Now we will have to remove the dirt by hand, so that learning in classrooms can start again,” he told AA in an empty classroom half filled with sand and mud.

“We also must rebuild our lives,” he added.

Local initiatives are helping schools in the southern Nsanje and Chikwawa districts transform themselves back from shelters for displaced persons to educational centers.

“The challenge is that these schools now host larger numbers of students,” noted Losha.

Another problem is that these schools do not have the equipment needed to operate normally, as the supply of such equipment is sorely hampered by poor road networks.

In Phalombe, another flood-hit southern district, many families are trying to reestablish their homes after returning from camps for the displaced.

Thousands, however, still lack basic needs, such as safe drinking water and food.

Hundreds of villagers from Chisinka and Nsona continue to flock to the nearby Tunthama Primary School to get weekly supplies from the government and NGOs.

“My family lost everything, so until the next crop- growing season, we will be surviving on aid,” Marko Thom, who had come to the school for assistance, told AA.

Most Phalombe residents said all they wanted now were seeds to be able to plant crops again.

“We can irrigate our plants to harvest food again,” said Thom.

As flood survivors return, Phalombe’s trading centers have begun to bustle with activity.

Traders are back in the markets, while vendors can be seen displaying their wares along the road.

“Once we have grown our own crops, we will be independent,” Thom told AA. “We don’t want to depend on aid forever.”

This boy whose Chigoli FP School in Mulanje was hit by the floods stands near his former home.  Photo: Agnes Mizere
This boy whose Chigoli FP School in Mulanje was hit by the floods stands near his former home. Photo: Agnes Mizere
malawi floods
Laston Dinala and wife in Nkando, Mulanje lost all when Tuchila river flooded. – Photo by Agnes Mizere