Heavy rains experienced in the first quarter of 2015 caused flooding in 15 of the 28 districts in Malawi, most of which were located in the southern part of the country. The Southern Region of Malawi received 400% higher rains than usual (compared to the long term mean) causing the Shire River to reach its highest level in 30 years. The President declared a state of disaster on 13 January 2015 and appealed for assistance from the international community in managing the disaster and its aftermath. Assessments were carried out by different agencies including an initial joint assessment by Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) for the Government of Malawi. Besides this, other assessments were conducted; one by the United Nations Disaster Assessments and Coordination (UNDAC), and the second was an Inter-Agency Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) coordinated by the Ministry of Lands and Housing, the third was a Damage Tracking Matrix (DTM) led by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The MRCS participated in these assessments.
The assessments prioritised a number of districts based on the effects of flooding on livelihoods, displacement of populations and destruction of infrastructure, properties and farmlands. It is reported that 230,000 people were displaced and 63,000 hectares of farmlands destroyed. The prioritised districts included Nsanje, with an estimated 74,000 people displaced, Phalombe with about 50,000 people displaced and Chikwawa with an estimated 35,000 people displaced. Other districts included Zomba, Blantyre and Mulanje. Out of this list of prioritised districts, the Red Cross targeted five districts, four to be supported through the Emergency Appeal (Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Blantyre) with a combined total of 8,493 Households (42,130 persons) and the fifth district (Zomba) to be supported by Danish Red Cross through bilateral funding to Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS).
The Emergency Appeal was launched on 21 January 2015 for CHF 2,795,351 and was later revised, after detailed needs assessment, on 28 February 2015 to CHF 4,085,351 for 46,712 people (8,493 households). The Emergency Appeal was revised for CHF 3,055,497 (8,493 households) in July 2015 to adjust activities based on funding raised and needs on the ground. The revision also catered for the extension of the appeal time frame to cover recovery activities. The MRCS with support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) focused on 6 key outcomes:
Improving preventive health measures;
Filling gaps in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene solutions; Emergency Plan of Action Final Report Malawi: Floods
Helping to bridge the food gaps left by the lost crops and upcoming lean season;
Helping people to establish safe temporary shelters for their families;
Support to protection measures including family links and psychosocial support;
Improving MRCS own capacity in disaster preparedness and response.