Statement by the Secretary and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Mr. Wilson Moleni on Cyclone Idai Response and Recovery Needs during the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (24th to 26th June, Geneva)


1. Background

Malawi is exposed to various hazards, both natural and humaninduced. Recently, the country has witnessed an increase in the frequency and magnitude of these hazards, which often culminate into disasters leading to damage to infrastructure, loss of lives, property and livelihoods, among others. Disasters have also impacted on the socio-economic development of the country, while eroding efforts and gains in infrastructural development and other spheres of life.

2. Impact of Cyclone Idai

From 5th March, 2019, the country experienced heavy rains accompanied by strong winds as a result of the Tropical Cyclone Idai.

The heavy and persistent rains led to severe flooding in fifteen (15) districts and two (2) cities in southern Malawi. Over 975,000 people were affected, with over 86,976 people displaced, with 60 deaths and 672 injuries recorded. The displaced people sought refuge in 173 displacement sites/ camps across the affected districts.

The heavy rains and floods damaged infrastructure, including houses, roads, bridges, and water and irrigation systems. In the social sector, the housing subsector experienced the greatest damage, with 288,371 houses partly or completely destroyed. Most of the displaced sought refuge in schools, churches, community buildings and other temporary shelters. Some were hosted by relatives or neighbours.

Around 80% of the displaced people sought refuge in schools, preventing delivery of education services as students were not able to attend lessons as their schools were damaged or being used by the displaced households as temporary shelter.

All the affected districts had populations targeted receiving food assistance under the 2018/ 2019 national food insecurity response programme, hence the cyclone exacerbated their existing dire situation and vulnerabilities.