- Jan 30, 2003Authorities Take Stock Of Damage Caused By
African Church Information Service
January 27, 2003
Posted to the web January 29, 2003
Reported By Hamilton Vokhiwa
Authorities in Malawi are taking stock of damage caused by floods,
following heavy rains that pounded the country recently.
The extraordinarily heavy rains occasioned by a cyclone named Defina,
caused widespread damage to infrastructure and agricultural land. A
number of roads, bridges and railway lines were damaged. Large areas
crop fields were washed away, killing at least 10 people and
tens of thousands of people, now in need of relief aid.
A wash-away of a bridge along Zalewa highway caused a major disruption
of traffic between Blantyre and Lilongwe, but has since been partly
repaired to allow traffic to pass.
Road traffic authorities said three people went missing when the
across Rivi-rivi river was swept away, following two days of incessant
More bridges were washed away throughout the country, rendering a
number of areas inaccessible to motor vehicles.
This caused President Bakili Muluzi to declare a state of emergency.
was the second time the president was making such a declaration in a
span of less than one year.
In February last year, President Muluzi declared a state of emergency
following widespread food shortages that led to deaths of hundreds of
people, especially children.
The Commission for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation,
said in total, up to 15, 000 people have been displaced by the current
Lucius Chikuni is the head of the Commission. He said work had started
bring food and tents to the displaced people, who had sought refuge in
schools and churches in affected regions.
The most affected areas include Karonga and Rumphi in the northern
region, Lilongwe, Salima and Ntcheu in central part of the country,
Machinga and Balaka in the south.
In Ntcheu district, the Malawi Television featured a cemetery where
raging flood waters washed away coffins, leaving the graves open. Some
bodies were recovered several kilometers away.
Western aid agencies have promised to step up relief assistance,
following the declaration of a state of emergency by President Muluzi.
A representative of a western diplomatic mission based in Lilongwe,
that the declaration would pave way for a suitable response by western
World Food Programme (WFP) information officer, Abbelgadir Musallam,
said his organisation was at pains to try to reach some areas in the
districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in lower Shire Valley. He said they
forced to divert relief food items to other accessible sites more than
kilometers away from the strategic distribution centres.
"We have no money to airlift the relief items. Our movements have been
delayed and we don't know what is happening to those people."
When making the declaration, President Muluzi said the costs of
could be expected to run into millions of Kwachas.
District officials and representatives of non-governmental
have issued urgent appeals for food, medicines, blankets, tents and
sheets for the displaced people.
Over the past few weeks, teams of field workers from non-governmental
organisations, the department of disaster preparedness and relief
rehabilitation, as well as the international organisation of doctors
borders have been forcing their way across washed out roads to reach
District Commissioner for Salima, Gift Rapozo, said about 2,300 people
18 villages were isolated and that government officials including those
his office were failing to reach the displaced people.
"We have come up with the number after estimating the village
but we don't really know how many more people are isolated. It might
possible that others left the areas when they sensed the dangerous
situation," he said.
Shadrick Matsimbe, who is the chairman of the Road Users Association,
said his organisation had difficulties to reach an isolated area
bridge had been swept away.
"People are starving in the villages as we are failing to supply them
relief items because of the poor condition of the roads and bridges
to those areas," he pointed out.
Religious organisations were mobilising relief aid to the affected
One of them, the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), donated
flour and cow peas to 1000 households displaced by floods in Salima.
Ironically, the floods have come after governments in the southern
region were advised to plan for another season of little rainfall, and
possibly, a terrible drought.
Harare police break up
Zimbabwean police have fired tear gas at
hundreds of residents of the capital, Harare, as
they entered the office of the mayor.
Mayor Elias Mudzuri, who is from the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says
he was trying to inform his constituents about
He told the BBC's Focus
on Africa programme
that this was the only
way he could
rate-payers because state-owned media
refuse to interview him or even carry his
Mr Mudzuri was arrested two weeks ago for
holding an illegal meeting.
Earlier this month, the government announced
that it would introduce governors to run Harare
and the second city of Bulawayo, which both
have MDC mayors.
Under tough new security laws, the police
have wide powers to break up meetings of
more than five people.
But Mr Mudzuri said the meeting was going to
be held in his office and so he did not need
"I hold meetings every five minutes with more
than five people," he said.
"It's becoming a police
He also said that the
police were invited to
the meeting and had
originally given their
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>