Malawi: Flood survivors face dire conditions 

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Aman Maomao is one of hundreds of people sheltering in the grounds of a public building. He says: “Life is unbearable here. We hardly get food, but what else can we do? We cannot go back to our homes. They are under water and probably [fallen] down by now.”

For those like Mr. Maomao who have lost everything in southern Malawi’s Chikwawa District, the current priority is just getting the next meal.

More than one million Malawians have been affected by flooding in 15 of the country’s 28 districts. About 330,000 people have been displaced and 276 are missing or dead. The flooding followed heavy rains during the last month.

Agriculture has been badly affected in flooded areas. A total of 42,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed and 100,000 tonnes of crops lost.

More than 100,000 people are living in makeshift camps. Only one of the 20 camps in Chikwawa District has enough tents to meet the needs of the people living there. In other camps, many sleep in the open, with few cooking utensils, mosquito nets or other supplies.

People living in the camps are doing their best to escape the overnight rain in the few tents available. But in the Bangula camp, for example, most tents are used mainly for medical consultations and are too small for families to sleep in. The camp segregates tents by sex, but not by age: children share sleeping quarters with adults. In other sites, men and women share tents.

There are not enough toilets in some sites, while the poor lighting and unsegregated facilities increase the dangers of assault for women and girls.

UNICEF has appealed for more than $9 million U.S. to respond to the floods over the next few months. According to the UN World Food Program, almost $18 million U.S. will be needed to feed people affected by the floods.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Department of Meteorology and Climate Change has warned of further heavy downpours. The Department says that further rains may trigger flash floods and cause rivers to break their banks in flood-prone districts.

According to a joint report by the UN and the government of Malawi, there is a serious risk of further flooding. Officials in all areas have been warned to prepare to respond quickly.

Like Mr. Maomao, Aswell Guta is also a displaced person. He says, “We have been hit and we are in this situation. There is nothing we can do. We are waiting for the necessities, as we cannot go back home.”

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