Lisungwi Bridge in Malawi damaged by cyclone leaves terrible aftermath

by Baldwin Chiyamwaka - Communications
Lisungwi Bridge in the Senzani Area Development Program, which was officially handed over to the Malawi Government a month ago, was washed away last Friday leaving an estimated 12,000 people cut off from all social amenities and endangering their food security prospects.

The bridge, which was 56.3 meters long, regarded as a new emerald by the community and a new means of connection to the rest of the country was one of the Area Development Programs major development endeavors at a cost of USD150,000-about eleven million Malawi Kwacha.

The bridge was the only connection to the hospital, market, maize mill, the district headquarters, police station, Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation(ADMARC) and the rest of the country for 20 villages across the southern part of Lisungwi River.

Around 20 villages have been derailed because of the bridge collapse.

"For three days, with the swelling and flooding river, no one dared risk his or her life to cross the river. This meant life coming to a standstill [and] besides it was still pouring down for the next few hours," says Gladys, one of the affected women.

Village headperson Matchereza urged the reporter to see the damage caused to crops. Vast fields of maize 30 to 60 meters away from the river bank have been destroyed leaving the land deeply trenched with gullies and masses of huge fallen tree trunks clustering the fields.

"We are completely done. Already we are surviving on World Food Program relief food aid because of hunger. The crops we planted were distributed to us by the government under the Starpack Farm in-put project. Now we are left hopeless," lamented village headperson Matchereza.

Malawi has been experiencing Cyclone Delfina for the past two weeks with torrential rain and storms.

The Cyclone has resulted in flooding and damage to crops, houses, bridges, electricity steel towers and other property.

According to media reports in the country, the most hard hit district is Salima, which is situated along the shores of Lake Malawi. A total of five people are reported dead, while 15,000 families have been affected and 12,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed.

Government and political leaders have described the occurrence as tragic as it is aggravating the famine situation which is already affecting about a third of the country's three million people.