Tropical Storm Ana stuck Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi with high winds and torrential rains, leaving at least 80 people dead across borders. The region has been repeatedly struck by severe storms and cyclones in recent years, taking lives, destroying homes, infrastructure and crops and displacing large numbers of people. In some cases, the communities struck again were still recovering from previous disasters, compounding the impact.
Tropical Storm Ana lashed the Southern and Central Districts of Malawi from Monday 24 January, bringing strong winds and heavy rains. In a matter of hours communities were being washed out by significant floods. Some of the areas affected by Ana were already suffering from floods due to the ongoing rainy season.
According to the Government of Malawi – Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) as of 31 January, 37 people have been reported dead, 22 missing and 158 injured. Over 193,558 households (948,434 people) are affected, and 740 hectares of crops have been destroyed. Before this disaster the areas impacted were already under Integrated Food security Phase IPC2 and IPC3 (People stressed and people in crisis classification).
Some 143 emergency camps have been set up to deal with thousands of displaced and injured people. 22,364 households (109,359 people) are currently hosted in these camps. Households displaced are currently seeking refuge in designated camps, churches, schools and other public structures. The region around Mulanje in Southern Malawi was particularly affected.
Bridges were washed away by swollen rivers, while livestock drowned and fields were submerged, destroying the livelihoods of rural families. Damage is also reported to public infrastructure (health facilities, churches and schools including damage to teaching materials). The country remains in intermittent power supply as power generation has been heavily reduced due to the damage that the floods have caused to key hydro station.
In a statement released on 26 January, the Government of Malawi declared a state of disaster in 15 districts in the southern and central regions, and search and rescue operations are a priority. The Government appealed for humanitarian assistance. According to DoDMA there is an urgent need to support displaced people in the camps with food and essential households’ items (EHI) such as blankets, cooking utensils, etc. and shelter items (tents, tarpaulin, etc.); to support injured people with mobile clinics; and to provide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)support with wash equipment, hand washing facilities, aqua tabs, temporary latrines, dignity kits etc.
Meanwhile, weather services in the region have warned of another storm building in the Indian Ocean, which may materialise in the coming days. More storms would usually be expected before the end of the season in two months' time.