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Grappling with floods

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NOBODY WILL DIE OF HUNGER— Chilima

Standing aloft while roofing his two bedroom makeshift abode, Malizani (not real name) of Traditional Authority Tsabango, Lilongwe district sweats profusely at the thought of having to, once again, mobilise financial resources with which to re-establish his life.

All had been rosy in his life until the flood waters came calling, and within a blink of an eye, all his property, including a three bedroom standard house with all its contents and a mini shop that earned him bread and butter, was reduced to rubble.

“My life has been shattered. How else am I going to fend for my family and pay for my children’s school fees? The grocery shop was all I had,” he explained, having finally climbed down from the roof of his makeshift home.

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Malizani’s concerns are genuine. He has a wife and two daughters to take care of, as well as a son who is pursuing secondary school education in form two.

His is not the only tale as more people have also lost their all, courtesy of the raging waters that came down when the heavens opened up.

Ordinarily, the falling of rains should be reason enough for one to celebrate but that appears not to be the case for the people that have fallen victim to the natural disasters that have occurred in most parts of the country.

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And now, as these people try to pick up the pieces, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs – DoDMA has also been tallying the figures, while at the same time extending relief assistance to the victims.

“The disasters have affected over 18,000 people and if we are to translate that into individuals, then we are looking at about 99,000 people,” Chipiliro Khamula, DoDMA public relations officer, had disclosed in an earlier interview.

He went on to add that of the 20 districts affected by natural disasters, eight are in the Southern Region, another eight districts in the Central Region while the Northern Region has four districts affected.

Mzuzu and Lilongwe cities were also affected, including Luchenza municipality.

“I would say the flash floods that occurred in some parts of Lilongwe city in December last year remain the worst recorded thus far, considering that six people died during that disaster,” Khamula said.

But that was then, and it now appears the problem is far from over.

Just when everybody was beginning to think that we have seen the last of the floods, people in Nkhotakota, Mangochi and Rumphi districts were last week taken surprise by the floods that once again turned their lives upside down.

As of Tuesday, about 1,266 households were said to have been affected in Nkhotakota district alone.

District Commissioner Felix Mkandawire feared the worst and told our sister paper The Daily Times that the number of victims is likely to increase.

It is not easy to find footing especially after having one’s life turned entirely upside down through disasters such as floods. This is why it is important for the government and people of goodwill to come in and render assistance.

Speaking when he visited the victims in Nkhotakota, the country’s vice president Saulos Chilima, urged organisations and stakeholders to come in and help, while assuring the victims of more assistance.

“We also know that some of you were hit by the dry spells and the fall armyworm. Shortly, we will release the figure of people who are going to be flood insecure and be assured that nobody will die of hunger,” he said.

Some of them can, for now, breathe easy following the assurance because the unrelenting rains have also submerged their crop fields.

The following day, Chilima and his Department of Disaster Management Affairs – Dodma entourage trekked up North, to Karonga specifically, where communities have equally been hit by floods.

The story gets shocking as up to three people in the district are said to have died due to the recent floods. Some bridges have even been destroyed, with a number of roads rendered impassable.

It is quite commendable that the government has moved in quickly to assist the victims but it is certain that the victims will need much more support than the government can offer. Only if individuals and relief organisations join in can their burdens be eased.

There is also need to strengthen disaster resilience within the communities so that problems such as floods should not re-occur in the near future. It would also require billions of Kwacha to rehabilitate some of the infrastructure such as roads that has been destroyed.

Thus, it is a mixed bag for the victims because while the likes of Malizani in Lilongwe are now picking up the pieces, their colleagues are being rendered destitute and the only consolation is that the rainy season is now drawing to a close.

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