UNICEF scales up support to Malawi’s Flood Victims as rains persist

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Floods displace over 33 000 people and destroy schools

LILONGWE, 01 February 2013- UNICEF is scaling up its emergency assistance in Malawi after flooding has hit the country’s southern region. A recent inter-agency assessment estimated that over 33,000 people have been displaced leaving many people without shelter or clothing. Crops have been destroyed in Mangochi, Phalombe and Nsanje districts, while over 20 schools have been disrupted, affecting thousands of children.

“Communities, government, NGOs and the UN are working together to avert a humanitarian disaster,” said Mr. Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF Country Representative in Malawi. “But the rains are persistent and we remain on high alert as the flooding spreads to other areas.”

The persistent rains have destroyed roads making access to flooded areas difficult for the delivery of relief materials. Food, emergency shelter, medical supplies and other non-food household items such as blankets, buckets and pots are urgently needed for the affected amilies. The flooding has also compromised access to safe water, sanitation and overall hygiene in the affected communities.

In response, UNICEF is providing communities with a combination of water, sanitation and hygiene-related supplies. Supplies include chlorine, soap, water purification chemicals, plastic sheeting for construction of temporary bathing and latrine shelters, as well as hygiene awareness campaigns to prevent the risk of cholera.

Many displaced families have sought shelter in schools using them as kitchens and bedrooms resulting in considerable damage to school furniture and disruption in learning in at least 20 locations. UNICEF has provided the school-in-a-box supplies to ensure that quality learning resumes in the affected primary schools.

“Vital supplies are getting through to stricken communities,” said Mr. Mdoe. “But as UNICEF we remain vigilant, monitoring childhood diseases, ensuring schools are functional and that children go back to learning.”

Despite the flooding, Mangochi, Phalombe, and Nsanje are also among the districts hit hardest by the current drought, which has left nearly 2 million people food insecure and children at a high risk of malnutrition and disease across the country.