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Cyclone Ana affects 37,000 people in Zomba

ON THE GROUND— Emergency service providers

Over 37,000 people in Zomba District have been affected by the heavy rains experienced from Monday to Wednesday this week, according to the district council’s assessment report.

Cyclone Ana hit the country this week resulting in heavy rains, heavy winds and flooding in some parts of the country.

In an assessment report released Thursday, the Zomba District Council says, as at January 26,2022, up to 7,564 households, representing a total population of 37,820 people, were affected by the disaster.

“Some 550 houses collapsed while others were partly damaged,” it says.

The areas worst affected are in traditional authorities (T/As) Mwambo, Malemia, M’biza, Kuntumanji, Ntholowa, Idana, Nkagula, Mulumbe and Chikowi.

“Some displaced households are temporarily resident in camps. Some visits to the camps revealed that there is critical need for adequate temporary shelter in most of the affected areas. It is important to have prepositioned tents, in case it floods further,” the report says.

The heavy rains have affected a number of socio-economic sectors. On education, for example, the report indicates that while no school has been damaged by the floods, some education and learning materials in some schools were lost or damaged.

The report also says most toilets in the schools were water logged and over-flowing, posing the risk of disease outbreaks.

The council has managed to put a total number of 373 households in four camps in TA Mwambo’s area.

However, the council says it does not have a readily available allocation of resources for disaster response.

“There is a need for resources to facilitate timely disaster assessments and response operations,” it says.

According to Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula, districts that have been heavily affected by the cyclone include Mangochi, Lilongwe, Zomba, Phalombe, Balaka, Kasungu, Mchinji, Mulanje, Nkhotakota, Mzimba, Karonga, Chikwawa, Nsanje and Machinga.

Khamula said the negative impact of the disasters included loss of lives, injuries, damage to houses and property as well as the destruction of crop fields and infrastructure.

Malawi has experienced a number of disasters over the past year, resulting in thousands of households being affected. Khamula said from July 2021 to Friday, January 21 2022— which was well before Cyclone Ana struck— a total of 24,756 households (12,112 female-headed and 12644 male-headed) had been affected by weather-related disasters.

He said the department has recorded 39 deaths so far from these disasters – 26 due to lightning strikes and 13 as a result of collapsed walls due to strong winds and stormy rains.

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