* Hardest hit was the Lower Shire to which all rivers in the upper highlands flow
* Over 220,000 people have been left homeless with thousands of hectares of crops destroyed
* MRF-UK is reaching out to Nsanje, Zomba and Mangochi with relief food, clothing, blankets, safe water and shelter
By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Relief Fund (MRF) UK has stepped up its humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people by responding to the plight of thousands of people, who have been rendered homeless due to the floods that have took place on January 24-25 caused by Cyclone Ana.
Cyclone Ana brought with it heavy rains in many parts of Southern Region of Malawi and the hardest hit was the Lower Shire to which all rivers in the upper highlands flow.
According to statistics currently available indicate that several people have died while over 220,000 people have been left homeless with thousands of hectares of crops destroyed.
Thus MRF UK swiftly moved in to assist the victims with relief items that included food, clothing, blankets, safe water and shelter at Makhanga in Nsanje as well as Zomba and Mangochi districts.
Zomba and Mangochi are two of MRF UK’s catchment areas for its humanitarian reach where it provides assistance in times of disasters and also builds houses for many vulnerable people.
As MRF UK reached out to their catchment areas, which have also been affected by the floods from Cyclone Ana, they turned their focus on the Lower Shire as well when reports reached them of the extent of the disaster.
Having also assisted the other two districts, MRF UK thus calls on other wellwishers to join them by donating funds towards reaching out to as many people as possible, saying the government alone cannot sustain the gravity of the situation on the ground.
MRF-UK’s country coordinator, Yakub Valli said they were shocked of the extent of the disaster when they visited the flood affected areas and as this was an emergency they cannot immediately reach out to as many people as possible.
“We would be glad if people would also join us in this project because the situation on the ground very seriously needs the assistance from every one of us taking cognizance that the government cannot do this alone.
“At the meantime we are still distributing relief items we have available and we will make sure we reach out to as many as possible until the situation normalizes.
“We were really taken aback with the extent of the damage done in these districts where thousands have been left homeless, their crops destroyed and do not have access to clean water.”
He thus appealed to those interest to join them to contact Faruk Bharucha on +44 7870599753; Yusuf Mangera +44 7866019239; Ismaili Valli +44 7855856165; Ahmed Bobat +44 7807024757; Moulana Habill Makdha +44 7522290506 for Malawians in diaspora.
Yakub Valli, whose contact is +265 888827058, said any help would be valuable and should be in form of food, clothing, blankets and clean water and the excess to assist in post-tragedy if need be.
The floods have also destroyed roads, bridges, electricity power lines as well as power generation plants for for Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) at Kapichira and Nkula.
This forced EGENCO its sister company ESCOM to shut down their machines that plunged the Southern Region and other parts of the country into power blackout from Monday evening to protect intake structures from damage.
EGENCO and ESCOM are still rationing power supply up until water levels are down for safe operation of other machines.
Also affected by the extensive floods was construction works of Shire Valley Transformation Project (STVP) — damaging some structures but the Ministry of Agriculture assures the public of speedy continuation of construction works.
In a statement from Secretary for Agriculture, Sandram Maweru the project’s intake structure foundation at Kapichira Dam was intact but a structure which had been partially damaged is a section of the 750-meter siphon which connects the intake and the main canal.
All critical structures are intact including the flume, siphon, culverts and the main canal and together with contractor, Conduril, the Ministry will carry out detailed assessment of the damage once the water levels drop and the site is accessible.
Maweru stressed that construction of the intake structure was at foundation stage together with two yet-to-be-completed superstructures of front wing walls. However, one incomplete wing wall was damaged.
The impending floods were well warned off on Saturday by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services which reported that there was a Tropical Depression which was an initial stage in the development of a Tropical Cyclone — now named Cyclone Ana — that has developed in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar on Friday, January 21.
The Department reported that as of Saturday, January 22 at 10:00 local time, the Tropical Depression was located over Madagascar Island and was moving at a speed of 37km per hour.
The depression entered the Mozambique Channel by midnight of Sunday January 23 where it continued moving towards Mozambique coast and as according computer readings of the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services the shortest distance along the track to Malawi was expected to be almost 500km.
Thus the Department warned in advance that given the recent heavy rains and flash flooding in the Southern Region, this tropical system could renew flash flooding or lead to new flooding concerns across the region.
MRF-UK has been involved in many other projects across the country aimed at alleviating poverty in giving out food handouts; providing new houses; carrying out livelihood projects; providing access to clean water, the gift of sight among many other projects.
It also manages a Talha Scholarship that reaches out to more 240 students in various universities and colleges in which over a 100 females are in teacher training programmes.