Malawi - Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2003/0012
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
Malawi - Floods
15 January 2003

Click here to see the related map of this disaster.

This report is based on information provided by the United Nations Resident Coordinator's Office in Malawi.


1. Heavy rains associated with tropical depression Delfina made rivers burst their banks, thus resulting in floods in many parts of the country. The most affected areas are the districts of Salima, Balaka, Dedza, Machinga, Ntcheu, Dowa and Phalombe. There are also reports of floods in Rumphi, but details have not yet been received.

2. Assessments are under way in each of the districts. On 14 January 2003, the Department of Disaster Preparedness Relief and Rehabilitation (DDPRR) reported that overall 50,000 households had been affected by the floods washing away crops such as maize, tobacco, rice and other food crops, the main source of livelihood for the majority of Malawians. 3,429 households had their houses damaged, as reflected in the table below:

Household with damaged houses
Households with damaged crops

3. In addition, there has been considerable disruption to transportation of goods and services as a result of damage to roads, railway and bridges. In some areas, economic activity has come to a standstill.

4. The rains, which started late December 2002 and culminated in the floods, have occurred during a time when Malawi experiences a food crisis. As the Office of the Resident Coordinator reports, what is particularly lamentable is that the great majority of Malawians affected in these often-inaccessible areas are extremely poor women who are predominantly engaged in crop production.

National Response

5. Government's attention has focused on victims who have lost houses and other belongings. So far, families in Salima have been assisted to move to higher grounds and other safer places while others are residing in temporary shelters.

6. Standard packages of assistance have been sent by the Department Disaster Preparedness Relief and Rehabilitation to 600 households in Salima, 150 households in Ntcheu and 200 households in Balaka. Each package includes: 1 x 50 kg bag of maize, 5 kg of beans, 1 kg of salt, 2 blankets, 1 plastic bucket, 4 plastic plates, 5 plastic cups, 10 metres plastic sheeting.

International Response

7. On 11 January 2003, UNICEF, UNDP and OCHA carried out a field visit to the Salima district. UN Agencies continue to work in close collaboration with the Government, the district authorities and the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to assess the needs of the affected families.

8. UNICEF has distributed 1.050 kg of chlorine to Salima as part of the cholera preparedness program.

9. WFP has started distributing food to those households who have been mostly affected by the floods.

10. On 14 January 2003, the Ministry of Health and Population together with an epidemiologist from WHO visited the Salima district to asses the health needs of the population. The report of the mission will be made available shortly.

11. The Virtual Operations Coordination Centre ( has been activated to exchange information on the current emergency.

12. The OCHA Regional Disaster Response Adviser is in contact with the Office of the Resident Coordinator in Malawi and will revert with further information as it becomes available.

13. This situation report, together with information on other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers
Mr. J. McGoldrick / Ms. Federica D'Andreagiovanni
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 17 12/ 1478

Press contact:
(in GVA - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(in N.Y.) - Ms. Phyllis Lee, direct Tel. +1-212-963 48 32

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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