A church made into a relief camp
* Not much assistance is being offered by concerned authorities and well-wishers
* MP Mambala reached out to two camps with relief items from her own resources
* Year in and year out, school kids fail to attend classes when Rivi Rivi River floods
* Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone will continue influencing weather over Malawi
* Govt warns of possible second wave of floods
By Duncan Mlanjira
Floods continue to wreak havoc in Balaka South through Rivilivi River, which is a tributary to the Shire, and has destroyed crops that were replanted after Tropical Cyclone Ana destructed the initial plant as well as washing way vital access roads.
And according to a weather forecast by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, more floods are anticipated in many parts of the country, including Balaka South.
Many families were left homeless in Balaka South due to Tropical Cyclone Ana and while the attention on assisting flood victims is mainly focused in Chikwawa, Nsanje, Mulanje and Phalombe, the stranded people of Balaka South are being forced to repatriate from relief camps and seek refuge in their relations’ homes.
The weather forecast by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services warns that the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone will continue influencing weather over Malawi — and thus the government warns people to be on high alert.
In a public warning from the Ministry of Water & Sanitation said effects of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone are causing heavy downpours over lakeshore and central areas and this weather pattern shows the rains picking up over the Southern Region.
The Ministry, through its Secretary Joseph Magwira warned on Tuesday of the possibility of flooding of most rivers in the Central areas of Malawi that include Dwangwa, Fwambadzi, Lifyodzi Navikoko and Mkhula in Nkhotakota District.
Other rivers are Lingadzi, Linthipe and Lifidzi in Salima District; a number of low lying areas in lakeshore districts of Karonga, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and Salima and the southern areas of Balaka (Liwaladzi, Rivi Rivi and Mpale).
Machinga and Mangochi districts are also not spared through its rivers Likwenu, Naming’adzi and Simulu (Machinga) and Lingamasa (Mangochi).
“The Ministry is, therefore, advising the general public to refrain from settling in, cultivating along the said areas during the rain and crossing flooded rivers and streams and to be alert when visiting the areas,” said the public alert, which also appeals on the people to pay attention to the continuously available weekly updates on floods.
In Balaka South, reports indicate that Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) only assisted only one area named Phimbi from the four that fall under Parliament’s Constituency Development Fund.
The other three are Nkaya, Nsamala and Mpilisi and in these there were there relief camps but with time the flood victims were encouraged to go back to their homes — since not much assistance is being offered by concerned authorities and well-wishers.
When contacted, Balaka South Member of Parliament, Ireen Mambala confirmed the development, saying she recently reached out to two camps with relief items from her own resources.
She also confirmed that the victims were being encouraged to repatriate back home if their relations can afford to host them, taking cognizance that the spaces they were being accommodated in were too small.
“With the little I had, I visited the camps and distributed some relief items to keep them going,” she said. “DoDMA only assisted one area.”
When asked if there were other wellwishers who came forward to assist like what is being done in Chikwawa and Nsanje, the MP said there haven’t been much, adding that World Vision distributed temporary sheets to Muluma evacuation center.
“Most wellwishers are rushing to Nsanje and Chikwawa — leaving us behind,” she said.
In collaboration with her constituency development fund chairperson, Kamtemba, MP Mambala took the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges her constituents face every year when it rains that result in most roads become impassable.
She said the challenges are so huge such that the constituency development fund cannot sustain but needs special funding as properly planned projects.
“The main problems in my Constituency is road networks,” she said. “Currently the main access road to Balaka Town, which is the business hub where people access health services at the our district hospital, has been cut off at Nkaya after the Rivi Rivi 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.
“It poses huge challenges for people to access social services in Utale 2 like the hospital, secondary school and the market during rainy season. We need a bridge here but the Constituency Development Fund cannot sustain such a project — the funds aren’t enough.
“We need 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 fail 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 while Kamtemba added credence that there is need for urgent attention to the yearly challenges they face — not just through tropical storms but after any normal rainfalls.
“There is need to build dykes on many parts of the Rivi Rivi at which the river easily diverts and eats away the embankment and also for a bridge to be constructed to connect Utale 1 and 2.
“Utale 1 has the essential social services such as school, hospital, main market, maize mills and it is the main access to Balaka and Blantyre through the road and railway,” Kamtemba said.