Malawi Red Cross hands over houses to earthquake survivors

31/01/2013 - The Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has handed over 500 repaired and 100 newly constructed houses for survivors of the 2009 earthquake in the northern district of Karonga as part of a recovery project aimed at bringing back normalcy to the lives of thousands.

With financial assistance from the United Kingdom Department for International Development, (DFID), these houses have been built with new technology designed to withstand earthquakes and other disasters.

DFID Country Representative for Malawi, Sarah Sanyahumbi, noted that disaster responses in Malawi have mainly focused on floods and droughts and this resulted in challenges during the response to the earthquakes in Karonga which destroyed 10,500 houses, injured hundreds of people and killed five.

“When the earthquakes hit Karonga in December 2009, we were among the first organizations to move in and help the injured and displaced. We were able to provide emergency shelter to 6,000 families that had been forced from their homes. In order to reduce the vulnerability of the affected households for the long term, we further asked for financial support from DFID to provide remedial works on 500 damaged houses and construct 100 houses. A total of 750,000 British pounds (1,085,720 CHF) was used for the emergency and recovery program,” said Levison Changole, President of Malawi Red Cross at the official handover ceremony in one of the affected areas.

“Apart from this project, we were also working with communities in Karonga urban in improving sanitation in homes and schools. Between 2010 and 2011, with assistance from the British Red Cross, we provided funds through cash transfer by OIBM Bank to 250 households to repair their houses, constructed family latrines for 250 families, 24 communal latrines, 18 hand washing facilities and 18 urinals for schools.”

Karonga, which borders Malawi’s northern neighbor, Tanzania, is a disaster prone district which has experienced heavy flooding in the past. “Realizing how important our intervention in this district is, we have just launched a 1.1 billion kwacha (2.8 M CHF) health and care project which aims at improving the welfare of communities in Karonga and Zomba, with the possibility of expansion in the next four years. Through our volunteers, we will continue giving care and support to the needy in this country and other districts in line with our mandate,” said the Malawi Red Cross President.

The Malawi Red Cross Society, Malawi’s oldest and largest humanitarian organization, started its operations in 1932 as the Nyasaland Branch of the British Red Cross. In 1966, the Malawi government passed Act 51 of Parliament establishing the MRCS as a voluntary society, allowing it the right to use the protected Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems in conformity with Geneva Conventions. It became a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross in 1971.

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