Malawians now face the possibility of food shortages as thousands of hectares of land and crops has been submerged in water, due to torrential rains continually lashing the country and reports of a new cyclone set to make landfall soon. 200 people have died in the floods, with 200 000 reported to be displaced.
International aid agency Gift of the Givers is assisting hundreds of residents who have been left hopeless, as the torrential rains wrecks havoc across the country. Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said thousands of people have been cut off from accessing food and health care.
“They [humanitarian workers] couldn’t go very deep into the area due to the heavy rains however they managed to assist some people to get away from flood affected areas who are still in need,” said Sooliman.
The following day was the main distribution day and volunteers went deeper into those areas worst affected. However travelling to the areas remains difficult due to the fact that most roads and bridges have been severely damaged.
The volunteers assisted the defence force and then distributed food parcels as well as helping to take survivors to dry areas via boats and helicopters.
Gift of the Givers has offered the Malawian government assistance through means of a water rescue team that is fully equipped. The Malawian government has since declined the offer stating that the rescue efforts are almost over; a fact that was echoed by the teams on the ground.
Due to the dangers of diseases such as cholera and malaria, the NGO has since offered medical assistance. Supplies in South Africa have been flowing in steadily and Sooliman said it will soon be enough to send several truck loads worth of supplies to the flood stricken Malawi and surrounding affected areas. Malawi will have to start with a two way programme in order to get back on their feet.
“One is they will have to be given food for several months as thousands of hectares of land, crop and food supplies has been left flooded). They will also need support during and for the harvesting period, until they are back on their feet,” added Sooliman.
In addition to GOTG’s work, the Al Imdaad Foundation and Islamic Relief have volunteers in Malawi and Mozambique who are providing emergency relief aid to victims of the flood. Islamic Relief has been working in Malawi for almost a decade.
“We currently have a team on the ground, registering beneficiaries…we are distributing our first consignment of emergency food parcels to some 900 families by Thursday,” said the head of Programmes for IR Malawi, Sherifa Mia.
She said that residents of Blantyre city has sought refuge in schools and placed of worship but food shortages remain a serious challenge.
“Many displaced people are in urgent need of tents, food and clean water – as well as non-food essential items including mosquito nets, blankets, water purification tablets and hygiene packs.”
Mia said that IR Malawi is liaising with government authorities and have shared its plans for the emergency intervention.
“We have been informed that there is a severe fuel shortage that has impacted on air and land rescue and recovery operations. IR Malawi have undertaken to fuel two vehicles that would assist the water-locked region of Chikwawa.”
To repair the vast damage to property and infrastructure, Sooliman said that they may need international support for a period of months which could exceed a year, if not longer to rebuild the ruins of the flood. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)