OCHA Malawi Humanitarian Update Mar 1-19 2003

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 19 Mar 2003
Overview
Dry Spells/ Floods and storms

A number of districts were without rain for up to three weeks including most parts of Karonga, Mangochi, Rumphi, Nkhotakota and some parts of Mzimba, Chikwawa and Mwanza District. In parts of Karonga District crops are prematurely drying up with no hope of recovery in most gardens as maize crops are at milking stage. In addition, due to the dry spell rice has not been planted and as a result, rice seedlings have dried up on nursery beds. It is reported that parts of Karonga District have not experienced such a dry spell for decades. An assessment carried our by the district of the damage caused by the dry spell claimed that 15,542.82 hectares have been affected. Parts of Chikwawa District have also experienced a long period of hot and dry weather and this has also affected the crop stand. Rain received by some areas has had very little impact on crop recovery. Mwanza District has reported 1,089 households from 57 villages with 3,214 hectares have been affected by the dry spells. Approximately 160 households and 168 hectares of maize and tobacco have been affected in Dowa District mainly due to hailstorm and heavy rains. Other factors affecting crops in Dowa has been termite attacks, bean beetles and some water logging. Maize streak virus was observed affecting 321 farming families and attacking approximately 31 hectares of crops.

Food

WFP and the Joint Emergency Food Assistance Programme (JEFAP) NGOs met on Friday 14 March for a one-day workshop on the EMOP phase-out strategy. It was agreed that in April/May the beneficiaries' coverage would be reduced according to the harvest output. The April ration, approved by the Food Allocation Committee and endorsed during the workshop, will be 25 kg of maize, 12.5 of CSB and 5 kg of pulses per household. The May ration will cover 15 days only. In May-June WFP/JEFAP will phase-out. A number of districts reported that meetings at the District Assemblies with the coordinating and implementing NGOs of JEFAP have started to address the issue of scaling down of food aid and the strategies and sensitisation that will be undertaken to achieve a smooth transition.

The government through the Ministry of Agriculture is currently working on the establishment of a database and information systems to capture private food aid outside the JEFAP so that a clearer picture of the impact of private donations can be obtained. The basic information source for this information system is the reports the Department of Disaster Preparedness is compiling from the 27 Field Emergency Monitors (FEMs) located at each District Office and funded by UNDP. Information regarding the amount of food reaching the vulnerable is essential to ensure that accurate plans can be put in place to purchase realistic amounts of food required to meet the food deficit both now and in the future.

Health

A major cholera outbreak was reported in Dowa District at Madisi Mission Hospital within the reporting period. One hundred and five cases were registered within 72 hours after having consumed water from a contaminated shallow well. UNICEF responded immediately to a request from MoHP by sending experts and by delivering two 80 square meter canvas tents, 250Kgs of HTH (Chlorine for water treatment) and mobilizing adequate amount of Ringer's Lactate and Oral Re-Hydration Salt to contain the outbreak. No death has been reported and the situation is under control.

Nutrition

WFP, UNICEF and Co-Guard (Consortium of NGO's implementing Supplementary Feeding) met on Monday 17 March to discuss Supplementary and Therapeutic Feeding Programme strategy in 2003

Education

Heavy rains in some parts of the country damaged school infrastructures and teaching has been disrupted as a consequence.

HIV/AIDS

The National Aids Commission (NAC) has initiated a review process of its operations and implementation of the National HIV/AIDS strategic framework; the process will culminate into a joint review meeting at the end of March.

The UNCT is soliciting funding from CIDA to fund the Hope Humana Development from People to People initiative of "Total Community Mobilization" to increase utilization of Voluntary Counselling Test (VCT), Prevention Mother To Child Transmition (PMTC) and other services in the community. UNICEF will be managing the funds on behalf of the UNCT. This approach utilizes a "person to person counselling method" at household level. The draft-training manual for PMTCT was completed this week and is being reviewed. Pre-testing of the training package, which will enable health workers to offer counselling, information of PMTCT and infant feeding counselling at the antenatal clinic, will take place at the end of March. This will enable a rapid expansion of PMTCT, using the global funds for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM).

Agriculture

Harvesting of maize has commenced in Mulanje District with some farmers sun-drying the maize whilst others are processing it into flour. Some areas have started to sell this season's maize. According to the FEM the 'new' maize is being sold at MK7/8 per 1kg and MK400 per 50kg. In addition, some areas have also started harvesting fresh beans and groundnuts, which are now available at most market places. Rice is still in the field and is believed to be generally in good condition.

Refugees

Arrangements are under way to establish a new refugee camp. The Commissioner, DDPRR (GOM) has approved the relocation of some of the refugees to the new camp, this will relieve Dzaleka camp in Lilongwe from the prevailing congestion. Currently, although the camp has a capacity of 10,000, it has a population of more than 14,000.

Other

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Limited (ESCOM) announced power rationing after flooding water crippled its power station at Nkula B on Sunday 10 March. The power cut is disrupting the services of some humanitarian organisations in the country.

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