MRF-UK’s Aishah Mpata and Yakub Valli presenting the relief food to MP Mambala rep Pete
* We will forever be grateful to Malawi Relief Fund-UK knowing that they always have an ear to the ground
* Where they feel there is need to assist, they voluntarily come forward—MP Mambala
* We commit ourselves that whenever possible, we would be able to come forward and assist—MRF-UK’s Valli
By Duncan Mlanjira
After learning through the media that relief food assistance was not reaching out to Cyclone Ana flood victims in Balaka South Constituency that forced its Member of Parliament, Ireen Mambala to use her personal resources to bail out the most vulnerable, Malawi Relief Fund-UK pitched in by donating 50 packs of various food items.
The floods caused by Cyclone Ana that took place in January, which devastated many of the parts of the country, did not spare Balaka South Constituency as it left many families homeless after their houses were washed away.
These homeless people sought refugee in primary schools and churches — thereby inconveniencing learners as well as church services.
MP Mambala and concerned area development committee (ADC) leaders sent out SOS messages to relevant authorities to assist these homeless people with relief food and non-food items.
As assistance was not forthcoming — and taking cognizance that some road networks had been rendered impassable, MP Mambala took it upon herself to assist on her own for some of the relief camps.
At the same time, seeing that the spaces they had sought refuge were very small, the flood victims were being advised to repatriate back to their homes if their relations were able to host them.
In an earlier interview, whose report was published on Maravi Express, MP Mambala said: “It was a heart-wrenching decision to make but the families’ relations were agreeing to this measure in the hope that some resources might come for them to rebuild their livelihood all over having lost a lot of property and their business ventures greatly compromised.”
Affected people in Balaka South were from four ADC of Phimbi, Nkaya, Nsamala and Mpilisi and having heard that the flood victims were encouraged to go back to their homes since not much assistance is being offered by concerned authorities and well-wishers, the media caught up this development and reported in various channels.
The MP said to her great surprise and huge relief, she received feedback from MRF-UK telling her that though they were also committed to assisting many other affected areas — and having read of the plight of her Constituents through the media — they reserved 50 packs of relief items for 50 households.
The MP sent a delegation to Limbe in Blantyre where they collected the relief food and distributed amongst the some most vulnerable elderly headed families.
“I am deeply thankful of the gesture from Malawi Relief Fund-UK because it will go a long way in assisting these families, especially those that had to be hosted by their relations thereby adding more burden in their daily livelihood.
“We will forever be grateful to Malawi Relief Fund-UK knowing that they always have an ear to the ground and where they feel there is need to assist, they voluntarily come forward.
“We thank you profoundly and we pray to God that you be blessed together with all the donors in UK and within Malawi, who make it possible for you to do massive charitable works in Malawi,” said MP Hon Mambala.
In his remarks, MRF-UK Country Coordinator, Yakub Valli said it greatly touched them to learn through the media the sad state of livelihood in Balaka South and took upon themselves to reach out to the Maravi Express journalist who wrote the story to be linked to the MP.
“MRF-UK provides humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people and we have responded to the plight of thousands of people in times of disasters like this,” he said. “We swiftly moved in to assist the victims with relief items that included food, clothing, blankets, safe water and shelter Nsanje Zomba and Mangochi districts.
“Zomba, Chiradzulu, Phalombe and Mangochi are some of MRF-UK’s catchment areas for our humanitarian reach where we also provide assistance in times of disasters and also builds houses for many vulnerable people.
“As we reached out to our catchment areas, which were also been affected by the floods from Cyclone Ana, we also turned our focus on the Lower Shire as well when reports reached us of the extent of the disaster.
“Thus, we found it imperative to reach out to Balaka South as well and we are very touched by the message from the Hon. MP. We commit ourselves that whenever possible, we would be able to come forward and assist,” said Mr. Valli to the MP through her ADC chairperson Ajilu Pete when handing over the relief food.
MP Mambala could not be available to receive the donation as she was attending to the Parliamentary Budget Session but Pete highlighted the many challenges that Balaka South Constituents face every year when it rains that result in most roads becoming impassable.
He said the challenges are so huge such that the Constituency Development Fund cannot sustain but needs special funding as properly planned projects.
“The main access road to Balaka Town, which is the business hub where people access health services at the our district hospital, was cut off at Nkaya after the Rivi Rivi River diverted its course. There is also a death trap at Ngomano bridge on the road between Lazaro and Malunga, which is completely impassable for car users.
“Year in and year out, school kids fail to attend classes when Rivi Rivi River floods. This river demarcates Utale 1 and Utale 2 and it also poses huge challenges for people to access social services in Utale 2 like the hospital, secondary school and the market during rainy season.”
He added that there is a need of a bridge at the crossing between Utale 1 and Utale 2 but the Constituency Development Fund cannot sustain such a project — the funds aren’t enough.
“There is need for immediate intervention to this because each year people suffer from the effects of rains that makes the Rivi Rivi — which is a tributary to the Shire River — to flood.
“The Rivi Rivi is mostly an annual river but when it rains, it floods — thus rendering people on either side of Utale failing to connect each other for days on.”
The MP’s major concern is on school kids, patients and business through market found at Utale 1, saying there is a need to build dykes on many parts of the Rivi Rivi at which the river easily diverts and eats away the embankment.
Thus she calls upon the government and other well-wishing organisations to consider coming forward to address these huge challenges Balaka South Constituents face year in and year out.