Malawi: Floods DREF No. MDRMW001

Situation Report
Originally published


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In Brief


The situation

In southern Malawi, heavy rains since the beginning of December has continued to pelt Nsanje district causing flooding along the Shire River which Malawi shares with Mozambique, and also in other rivers such as Nyamizire and Lalanje in the north of the district. The Ruo River flows into the Shire River, and when it burst its banks, it forced the Shire to change its direction, making it flow into settlements. From 16 January 2006, the persisting heavy rains also caused flooding in Mangochi district where three deaths have been reported. The number of affected households in the three districts is as follows: - Nsanje 21,798, Chikwawa 13,778 and in Mangochi 102.

A total of 1,794 houses have been destroyed and the displaced people are now living with relatives and/in at schools in the upland which has not been affected by the floods. The destroyed houses were mainly made from poor local materials namely wooden poles and mud, making them vulnerable to being swept away by heavy rains. More such housed are likely to be destroyed if the heavy rains and storm continue.

Over, 24,032 hectares of planted crops mainly maize, millet, sorghum, cotton and beans have been washed away and some fields submerged. There is a need to replant crops once the water has receded. Meeting the ever-growing number of food insecure people with less food stocks in the country is currently the greatest challenge, which is worsened by the floods that have damaged the much needed crops and property of over 8,000 households in the southern part of the country. in the past response to such flooding damage attracted many humanitarian players, however, this time the government is struggling on its own to cater for those affected by the floods, mostly in Nsanje and Chikwawa districts (southern tip of the country), as humanitarian institutions are engaged in food security interventions. Many families have lost household utensils, food and livestock. It has been reported that at least 203 goats and chickens have been washed away.

The infrastructure is severely damaged and most roads are impassable within the districts. In Nsanje, the main bridge and three culverts connecting the affected area with other districts have been destroyed such that the area is inaccessible by any type of vehicle. Some of the areas are being accessed by small boats, with Chikwawa accessible by 4 X 4 vehicles only In all the three districts there has been considerable damage to water and sanitation facilities especially boreholes which are submerged by flood water forcing people to use contaminated and unsafe water. A considerable number of latrines have also collapsed and the affected families resorted to using nearby bushes and surroundings for defecation. There have been reports of cholera cases in Malawi since the rain season started in Blantyre with over 300 cases and three deaths, Mangochi with 195 cases and a death, Dedza with 89 cases, Balaka with 22 cases and Salima with six cases. With the disrupted water and sanitation facilities, it is anticipated that cholera might spread to other areas such as Nsanje and Chikwawa districts.

For information specifically related to this operation please contact:

- In Malawi: Lawson Kasamale, Secretary General, Malawi Red Cross Society, Lilongwe; Email:; Phone +; Fax +

- In Zimbabwe: Françoise Le Goff, Head of Southern Africa Regional Delegation, Harare; Email:; Phone: +, +; Fax: +

- In Geneva: Terry Carney, Federation Regional Officer for Southern Africa, Africa Dept., Geneva; Email:; Phone: +41.22.730.42.98, Fax: +41.22.733.03.97

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.

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MAP: Malawi: Floods situation map

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