Friday, January 23, 2015

Malawi Floods - update # 2

When I first wrote about the recent flooding in Malawi on January 21, 2015, I wrote that I had spent two weeks in Malawi in 2007. I had the privilege of traveling with some wonderful people, most of whom were from California, who were doing work with HIV (through an organization known as GAIA) and I was interested at the time in issues around the provision of clean water.  I have since lost touch with the wonderful people who were my travel companions, and I think of them often. My life has taken a very different direction since my trip to Malawi in 2007, but what I saw in Malawi changed me.

One of the districts in Malawi that has been among the most severely affected districts is a district in southern Malawi known as Chikwawa (map of Malawi highlighting districts affected by the 2015 floods). We spent part of a day in the Chikwawa district, by far the most remote and among the poorest areas that we visited in Malawi. I write about traveling on as remote and rutted dirt road in the Chikwawa district, a village (Mindanti) we visited and a drive to Father Patrick’s (Anglican) Church here. I was interested in a water well that was then under construction in the Mindanti. The day we drove that road (during the dry season), it was lightly raining but many of the rivers and streams we crossed over were dry. Prior to going to Malawi, I had heard that the road we were on is impassable during a normally rainy season, this was confirmed by our driver. I could see why.

I wonder how the people in Mindanti and Father Patrick's Church made out during the floods.

I feel wholly inadequate writing that my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Southeastern Africa (Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar) that have been affected by flooding, see this report and map dated January 23 for a summary of information from each country.  Malawi often sees a lot of rain during this time of year, its rainy season. As I understand it, this is the worst flooding that Malawi has seen in some 30 years. And as it is still relatively early in the rainy season in Malawi, more heavy rains may make recovery efforts difficult.

One website that I have been to that has a good summary of some of the current conditions and some of the ongoing relief efforts is from ReliefWeb. As I write this ReliefWeb has a nice page summarizing focusing on Malawi with links to information about the recent floods that may be found here, however if you are accessing this page sometime after these floods, the information on this page may change.

The government of Malawi has a preliminary response plan for the 2015 floods where they report that:
  • an estimated 638,00 people have been affected,
  • an estimated 174,000 people have been displaced from their homes and are living at various displacement sites,
  • 62 people are dead, and
  • 153 are missing.
Included among the international relief agencies currently working in Malawi are World Food ProgrammeDoctors without Borders, and Gift of the Givers (Gift of the Givers photo gallery of destruction). I am certain that there are many other relief organizations working in Malawi that I am not mentioning here. I did find a link to a South Africa media site (includes TV and radio) known as SABC. I did notice, through searching on their website for "Malawi flood" some stories on the recent floods in Malawi, for example this one dated January 20th reports on difficult access.

Edited on January 24, 2015 to add link to Gift of the Givers and SABC website.

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