Description of the disaster
The 2018/2019 seasonal forecast indicated that during the period from October 2018 to March 2019, most of the northern areas of Malawi were expected to receive normal to above normal rainfall amounts, while most of the southern areas of the country were expected to receive normal to below normal rainfall amounts. Despite this prediction, the Southern Region received early rainfall, which has been increasing since its onset up to mid-January 2019. Concurrently, Malawi received reports of Tropical Cyclone Desmond developing between Mozambique and Madagascar. The forecast indicated that the cyclone would affect Mozambique and Southern parts of Malawi.
Although the cyclone did not reach Malawi its effects resulted in continuous rainfall in the southern part of the country since 22nd January through to 26th January 2019. Within this period, extensive rainfall were received for Blantyre, Chikwawa and Nsanje from the Department of Climate Change and Met service. On 23rd January 2019, the Village Civil Protection Committee (VCPC) reported to the District Civil Protection Committee (DCPC) on the flooding and subsequent displacement of people in some Tradition Authorities of Chikwawa District. As a result, on the 25th January 2019, the District Civil Protection Committee joined the VCPCs to carry out a rapid assessment along with MRCS volunteers from the District branch office.
Based on the preliminary assessment report by the VCPCs and RC volunteer’s observation on the ground, the most affected Traditional Authorities are Makhuwira and Paramount Chief Lundu in Chikwawa. The assessment reported that a total of 15,974 people were affected, 3,154 houses damaged or destroyed, and 5,078 people reported to be displaced across at least seven camps set up by communities and government through the VCPCs. The VCPCs managed to evacuate the IDPs to the following camps; Mpama CBO, Nyangu Primary School, Tizola Grain Bank, Phimbi Primary School, Livuzu Primary school, Sekeni Primary School and Alinafe Camp. Most of the affected houses were semipermanent structures.
The VCPCs preliminary report, and updates from the DCPC assessment team, which included Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) staff and its volunteers, found that most boreholes were submerged and 97% of latrines collapsed forcing the communities to resort to open defecation, posing a serious risk of water and other vector-borne diseases, most notably Cholera and malaria which are common in these areas. In addition, in the IDP camps themselves, hygiene and sanitation is very poor and there is urgent need for hygiene promotion activities. As at 30th January 2019, there are over 5,078 people still accommodated in the camps. The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) continues to receive requests for relief support on shelter and WASH. As of 30th January 2019, the assessment is still ongoing as some areas including Group Village Headman (GVH) Sekeni 2, Pangilesi, Mada and Nantusi remain flooded and inaccessible. Through DoDMA, the inter-agency assessment team was deployed to Chikwawa District from 27th to 1st February 2019 to support the assessment in Chikwawa district. MRCS is part of the inter-agency assessment team. DoDMA in coordination with UNICEF and MRCS have introduced drones to capture information in all inaccessible affected areas.