Malawi Flood Victims – Clean Drinking Water a Priority

According to a statement by the Government of Malawi yesterday, 18 January 2015, Malawi Defence Force (MDF) teams have managed to rescue over 1,500 flood victims – 307 by helicopter and 1,264 by boat.

Some flood victims still remain cut off and rescue missions will continue. However, attention has now turned to the thousands staying in relief camps, where fear of cholera and similar diseases is a major concern. Food and clean drinking water are the top priority for those displaced by the floods in Malawi.

During a meeting between Malawi’s National Disaster Preparedness and Relief Committee and NGOs helping with the flood disaster, it was agreed to increase rescue efforts, food distribution, and engage preventive measures to avert outbreak of diseases such as cholera in the relief camps.

Contaminated Drinking Water

Finding clean drinking water is now thought to be of major concern throughout the affected areas. Floodwater has contaminated many clean drinking water supplies. Contaminated water could lead to an outbreak of cholera and other diseases.

Michael Charles, acting regional representative, southern Africa, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:

“We are focusing on two key areas at the moment: providing shelter to make sure everyone has somewhere dry to stay, and getting clean water to affected communities to mitigate the spread of diseases like cholera or acute diarrhoea outbreaks.”

Relief Camps

The statement said that there is still high need for more tents, food, kitchen utensils, essential medicines, dignity kits, and water purifying chemicals.

According to Chinese News Agency Xinhua, the situation in some relief camps in southern areas of Malawi has been complicated by the influx of people from Mozambique, which has also been affected by floods.

Numbers of Displaced

Accounts and figures vary, but many news agencies are reporting that 176 people have now died in the floods, over 100 still missing and as many as 200,000 displaced. The UN figures say that 121,000 people are currently displaced, 54 people dead and 153 people are missing.

Schools and Education

Child centres and schools have suffered damage throughout the affected areas. Other school buildings not affected are currently being used as relief camps for the displaced. The government said in their statement that they have started providing tents in such areas where the displaced people are staying in school blocks to ensure that learning is not affected.

Malawi Red Cross  Nsanje and Chikwawa, Malawi Jan 2015 Weeks of heavy rains have left more than 100,000 people displaced in Malawi. Homes have been destroyed, crops washed away, and infrastructure such as latrines and water supplies contaminated. The Red Cross is assisting with search and rescue, relief distribution (reached 7,000 households to date), and registration of displaced persons. Immediate needs include shelter and water and sanitation to prevent an outbreak of water borne diseases.
Malawi Red Cross
Nsanje and Chikwawa, Malawi Jan 2015
Weeks of heavy rains have left more than 100,000 people displaced in Malawi. Homes have been destroyed, crops washed away, and infrastructure such as latrines and water supplies contaminated.
The Red Cross is assisting with search and rescue, relief distribution (reached 7,000 households to date), and registration of displaced persons. Immediate needs include shelter and water and sanitation to prevent an outbreak of water borne diseases.