OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Malawi - Floods
23 February 2001
The report summarises information received from the UN Resident Coordinator's office in Malawi.
1. Malawi has been receiving an early and above normal rainfall, which resulted in the overflow of rivers and flooding in many areas throughout the country. The affected areas are Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mangochi, Phalombe, and Blantyre in the Southern Region, Salima and Nkhotakota in the Central Region, and Karonga and Nkhata Bay in the Northern Region. The Department of Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation (DDPRR), a focal point for disaster management in the Government, estimates some 194,000 people (36,520 households) have been affected. Lack of access to the affected areas due to damages to roads and bridges has been hindering the Government, District authorities, the UN agencies and NGOs to obtain a complete picture of the situation.
2. The Southern Region, especially the Districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa, is the most severely affected. DDPRR estimates a total of 22,000 households have been affected:
Nsanje District: Many parts of the District are completely submerged and isolated from the rest of the country. The displaced families sought refuge with relatives on higher ground. Five thousand people have been accommodated in public buildings, including schools and churches. Lack of adequate sanitation facilities is a concern. The DDPRR reports that some inhabitants of the villages near the border with Mozambique have crossed into Mozambique to seek refuge, and some Mozambicans affected by the floods have also crossed into Malawi, while the exact number of the people on both sides is still being established.
Chikwawa District: A WFP team is assisting the District authorities in assessing the situation. The team reported that 67 villages in different parts of the District have been affected. 10,073 houses have collapsed and 3,769 farm families in 35 villages have lost their crops. Assessments of the remaining 32 villages are ongoing.
3. In the Central Region, the districts of Salima and Nkhotakota are affected so far, while there might be a few pockets of disaster-affected areas in other parts of the Region:
Salima District: The latest report shows that 2,000 households have been affected in 45 villages, and a total of 2,110 hectares of cops have been damaged. The District authorities formed a task force to respond to the emergency.
Nkhotakota District: The flood situation has been exacerbated due to the shallow and rocky nature of the soil in the District. In the area close to Salima District, crops of 9,900 farm families in 93 villages have been damaged, while the degree of the damage ranges between 40% to 60%. Information on the central part of the District is not yet available.
National and International Response
4. The Government has not formally appealed for international assistance. DDPRR has been distributing maize and beans to the affected population. At this stage, it appears that the Department would be able to feed the victims for another 10 to 14 days, while thereafter, it needs to seek outside assistance. At the meeting convened by the UN Disaster Management Team on 21 February, the DDPRR advised the UN agencies, donors and NGOs to be prepared for intervention, as soon as the President of the country declares a national emergency.
5. The UNDMT being led by WFP has been in close contact with the Government, the local donor representatives and NGOs in assessing the situation and planning a further action. On behalf of the UN, the UN Resident Coordinator requested the Government to take immediate steps so that the required assistance would be made available to the affected population on time. There will be an urgent need of food, plastic sheeting for shelter, water purification chemicals and drugs, and seeds and planning materials to support the affected population.
6. OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the UNRC in Malawi and will revert with further information, as it becomes available.
7. This Situation Report and further information on ongoing emergencies are also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
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In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10
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Press contact: Mr. Donato Kiniger-Passigli, direct Tel. +41-22-91726 53
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