- Malawians die as floods
Some areas are accessible only by canoe
By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre
At least seven people have died in Malawi
when their mostly mud and thatch houses
crumbled over them as a result of heavy rain.
The deaths, in the
southern district of
Mangochi next to Lake
Malawi, brings to 15 the
number of people who
have so far been
confirmed dead as a
result of the recent
But Lucius Chikuni,
Commissioner of the
Department of Disaster Preparedness, Relief
and Rehabilitation, told BBC News Online the
figure could be much more.
"There are still more areas where we haven't
been able to go because they were cut off
from the rest of the country when roads
leading to them were washed away," he said.
I used a dug-out canoe to reach those
River backs up
At Marka, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from
the district headquarters in the worst hit
southernmost Nsanje district near the
Mozambican boarder, whole areas have been
flooded with the rise in the waters of the Shire
The Shire, Malawi's
largest river and the
only outlet from Lake
Malawi, crosses into
Mozambique where it
pours into the Zambezi.
But because the
Zambezi has been
inundated by other
waters from Zambia
and Zimbabwe, the
Shire has started
backing up, flooding
higher ground in Nsanje.
Where there were once roads and foot-paths,
people are now paddling in dug-out canoes.
Entire fields of crops have been flooded. Mr
Chikuni said agriculturalists were still assessing
how much has been lost in terms of lost crop
But for Dorish
Sandalamu, chairman of
the ad hoc refugee
committee in Nsanje,
nobody will be able to
harvest anything in
"We don't know where
our next meals will be coming from after the
floods have receded," he said.
Chikuni said more areas continue to be flooded
following heavy rains that have been falling in
most parts of the country for the past week.
He said, for instance, in the southern Phalombe
plains one more river has burst its banks
causing extensive flooding in more areas and
displacing a further 3,000 people.
A similar situation has
been reported in the
nearby Mulanje plain
where two rivers have
All these spell further
disaster for the people
in the worst hit
southern border district
of Nsanje, since all the
up-country end up
The figure of those displaced because of the
flooding countrywide continues to shoot up.
On Monday Mr Chikuni said at least 346,000
people have been displaced and are in dire
need of food, clean water, shelter and
He said so far a number of NGOs and local
companies have been providing food, plastic
sheetings for shelter and chlorine to ride water
of bacteria that could cause an outbreak of
diarrhoeal diseases like cholera and dysentery.
"But this is not enough to cater for all areas,"
Malewezi is expected
to hold a crisis meeting
on Tuesday with donor
countries and agencies
to brief them about the
The donors are
expected to pledge
money towards the
According to the
Department of Disaster
Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation,
government has set aside 41 million Malawi
kwacha (about $513,000) for the relief efforts
but require at least 100 million Malawi kwacha
(about $1.3m) to address the immediate needs
of the displaced people.