UN Scaling Up Support to Floods Disaster Response

(Press Release, Lilongwe, 22 January 2015): The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are supporting the Government-led response to the disaster in Malawi, where heavy rains have led to massive floods, especially in the Southern region. The UN System is scaling up its support to affected populations who are desperate for safe water, food, medicines and other basic necessities.

UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Mia Seppo said: “Thousands of people have been affected by the floods. From the little girl wanting to be in school and play to her mother needing medical attention and her father who stayed behind trying to save their harvest. The UN was able to launch its response almost immediately after the floods began using pre-positioned relief supplies in the affected areas and has since continued working with partners to support the response to save lives, provide immediate basic needs including food and devise an effective plan for restoring lost livelihoods.”

UN Agencies’ humanitarian response covers evacuation, strengthening coordination and assessment efforts, and providing immediate support. WFP and UNICEF were able to quickly provide food, tents, nutritional supplies, buckets, chlorine for water purification, latrine slabs, survival kits, blankets and sanitation supplies. UNICEF, WFP and WHO have airlifted additional supplies to support the emergency humanitarian needs. The immediate response from the UN has been possible thanks to reprogramming and retargeting of funding from UK, US, Germany, Norway, EU and Ireland. Stocks of food from the ongoing national response to food insecurity under Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), which have been retargeted to flood affected areas, will have to be replenished as soon as possible.

WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS and UN Women are working with health and protection authorities to provide public health advice and support, ensure public health authorities do surveillance, and prevent diseases like malaria and cholera as well as address sexual and reproductive health issues including HIV prevention and treatment, and prevention of sexual violence. For instance, UNFPA has already distributed pre-positioned drugs and medical equipment to cater for clean deliveries including caesarean section and related complications of pregnancy and child birth in six districts and two central hospitals in the flood affected areas. 320 dignity kits were distributed to women of child bearing age in the two most affected districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje. Other life-saving drugs, including antibiotics and IV fluids worth about 600,000 US dollars are currently being moved from Lilongwe to the affected areas.

At the request of government, the UN also acted fast to provide additional technical support to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA). UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams are in the country supporting in coordination, information management, assessments, logistics and camp management. UNDP is also supporting coordination and setting up of emergency operations centre.

With the number of people affected by damage to crops estimated at 638,000, the UN is also supporting government to assess the damage to crops and livestock, and ensure a plan for restoring food production in the affected areas is in place.

The UN stands ready to work with government and development partners in support of the country’s recovery from the floods.

For further information, contact: UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (UNRCO) Communications Officer Mr. Phillip Pemba on, Phone: +265(0)1773500 or +265(0)995271671