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Disaster victims cry foul

Disaster victims in the border district of Karonga have accused the government of negligence following delays by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) to set up evacuation centres.

Some of the victims from Lupembe told The Daily Times that disaster response has been politicised, such that those without political connections are being sidelined.

Kingsley Mwalwanda said in a telephone interview that, as heavy rains continue to wreak havoc as North and South Rukuru rivers continue to cause floods, shelter is urgently needed among the victims.

“The government is not doing enough and, as a result, people are suffering here. All we need now is a safe place for those affected to stay in. All the items being distributed are useless if people have no shelter. Need I say that areas whose Members of Parliament belong to the opposition are rarely prioritised when it comes to timely interventions,” Mwalwanda said.

District Scouts Programmes Coordinator, Lusubilo Mwenelupembe, said in a separate interview that there is need for seriousness in managing disasters.

He said, in the absence of camps, the education system has been disrupted as the majority of victims seek refuge in school blocks, among other places.

“Churches are also inconvenienced because some people are accommodated there,” Mwenelupembe said.

But Karonga District Council Assistant Disaster Risk Management Officer, Oswell Mkandawire, downplayed the fears by Mwalwanda and Mwenelupembe, saying their assessment reveals that only eight households have been rendered homeless.

Mkandawire added that about 1,175 people from different parts of the district have had their fields crops washed away following heavy floods that occurred on January 28 and February 8, respectively.

“We know of 35 houses which have partially collapsed, with families being accommodated by friends and relatives. The district council and DoDMA are ensuring that people are given seeds for replanting, food and mosquito repellants. At an appropriate time, camps will be set up,” Mkandawire said.

Apart from Karonga District, heavy rains have displaced hundreds of people in Mzuzu, Salima, Rumphi and Nkhata Bay.

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