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Cyclones, floods threaten Malawi

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The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (Met) has said there are still strong indications of tropical cyclones and floods in the country.

This is happening at a time many parts of the country continue to receive rainfall.

The department further indicates that there are strong indications that two cyclones would be formed on the Indian Ocean this week but their likelihood of affecting Malawi is yet to be established.

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Met Director Lucy Mtilantila told The Daily Times in an interview Monday that, cumulatively, since the start of the rainfall season in October 2022 to January 2023, normal to above-normal rainfall amounts have been experienced over the majority of areas of the country, with pockets of normal to below-normal rainfall amounts over all the three administrative regions of the country.

Malawi’s three administrative regions are the Central Region, Northern Region and Southern Region.

She added that most rainfall amounts have been recorded from December in most areas of the country.

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“There is potential that one or two cyclones will develop on the Indian Ocean this week.

“However, we cannot talk ever we talk about the track they may take but we are sure that they will probably affect Madagascar,” she said.

Traditionally, low-lying areas used to be adversely affected by floods but, due to climate change, the trend has changed as high-lying areas are increasingly getting affected by floods.

The department blames land degradation and poor drainage system in most locations.

“Some of the floods we are experiencing are due to land degradation and, also, poor drainage systems. This shows that the floods are avoidable if we make sure that we give way to the waters through good drainage systems,” she said.

The implication of floods and cyclones is enormous, including a reduction in crop output.

In the 2021-22 growing season, the country harvested 3.7 million metric tonnes of maize, far below the 4.5 million metric tonnes of yield recorded in the previous year, depicting an 18.9 percent drop. This was largely due to back to back-to-back cyclones Ana and Gombe, which spurred floods.

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