Floods In Malawi Bring Hidden Dangers

Large parts of Southern Malawi still remain flooded and thousands of people have lost their homes and possessions. (Johnny O'Shea/ShelterBox)

Large parts of Southern Malawi still remain flooded and thousands of people have lost their homes and possessions. (Johnny O’Shea/ShelterBox)

Throughout the course of a year, the landlocked country of Malawi is regularly hit by floods and droughts, but this year’s deluge is said to be the worst in 40 years as a month’s worth of rain fell in just a day.

A ShelterBox response team, made up of Johnny O’Shea (UK) and Sallie Buck (UK) have flown to Malawi to see how ShelterBox can best help as reports suggest that more than 174,000 people have had to leave their homes and that 638,000 people have been affected in all.

The team has been looking at the need for shelter in several districts in the south of the country, including Chikwawa, where the scale of the damage is only starting to emerge.

Johnny said: ‘We visited the village of Khungubwe, which had been inaccessible by road, and found 2,700 people housed in an emergency centre that only had two rudimentary latrines for all of those people.

‘The people have come from six villages about six kilometres away, which were washed away by the flash floods that happened earlier this month. While they escaped, 24 friends and family members are still missing.’

The team found that many of the people staying in the emergency camp are too scared to return to their villages in case the flooding happens again, but the situation in the camp is not much better as there is little food or clean water and malaria is rife.

In Machenga, 1,679 people, including 92 pregnant women and 175 children under the age of five, are camping out in a school. There is little shelter from the scorching heat and one unreliable bore hole for drinking water.

The third village the team visited was Konzere, where they heard how people climbed onto the roofs of their houses to escape the rising floods. When the waters got too high, they were forced to climb into the trees and cling on as they watched their homes slide away. Some people waited for three days without food or water before being rescued.

For those that have escaped the floodwaters, the nightmare continues. 

Johnny said: ‘Many people don’t want to return to their villages as they say that they are too dangerous, but conditions in some of the temporary camps are just as frightening, with reports of crocodile attacks and fatal cases of malaria.’

ShelterBox is coordinating with other aid agencies working in the country to establish the best way of delivering aid. By working together, it means that more people can be reached and will be provided with the most suitable equipment.

ShelterBox is currently looking to send out a mixture of aid, including ShelterBoxes and Shelter repair kits, and will distribute the items depending on need.

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