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Loud drums of disaster

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By Richard Chirombo:

INSPECTION— Armed officers look around the place

His blood throbbed.

In fact, it quickened, both in his veins and arteries.

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Before he could have time to think ever what was happening in the world around him, he felt a thin, cold liquid soaking his blankets. And body.

“Actually, before I could think about what was happening to me, my house collapsed.”

This is what Abdul Kambani-Jezi remembers about “the unforgettable night” in March this year when Cyclone Idai hit parts of Zomba.

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Fortunately, raging waters swept him out of the house.

In-between the time water entered his house and the time he was being swept away, out of a house he constructed using money from cotton farming, Kambani-Jezi discovered that he was helpless; in fact, the helplessness was more frightening than floating on the water.

“I am a seasoned swimmer and, so, I do not fear water.

“So, I was more afraid of the fact that I did not know what was happening than I was about finding myself in a pool of water in my own house,” he says.

He must count himself lucky, though.

He is one of the people that survived Cyclone Idai, which left a trail of death— injuries, too— in its wake.

In total, according the Department of Disaster Management Affairs statistics, 60 people died after Cyclone Idai reared its ugly face in Southern Africa, devastating parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Countless others were displaced. Up to now.

Today, Kambani- Jezi is one of the people from Mikuyu area, Traditional Authority Mwambo, in Zomba District, negatively affected by the weather phenomenon.

At least 1,000 people bore the brunt of Cyclone Idai. Most of those affected are camping at Mbidi Nursery School, disrupting the delivery of education services as their presence away, culminated in the suspension of classes.

But, then, the deluge of presents has been as effective as the outpouring of grief.

Among other well-wishers, Germans, especially those from Helfen, have provided relief items, thanks to coordination with Malawians organisations such as Zam Zam Foundation.

Zam Zam Foundation Malawi Chairperson, Sheikh Saadi Al Talib, says plastic buckets, food, blankets, plastic sheets [40 metres per family], among others, which well-wishers have distributed through the organisation, have lessened challenges the people face.

Village Head Mthipeya says, this notwithstanding, people are looking forward to days when “this problem [of floods] will be over”.

“I have been looking forward to the day my people will be free from this bondage, particularly children— who are supposed to be in school instead of spending time in flood [survivors’] camps,” Mthipeya says.

VISITED PLACE— Veronique

Recently, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Information Management Officer in Malawi, Maria Veronique Magno, said it was not good to keep children in flood survivors’ camps for a long time.

According to UNHCR principles, children found in refugees camps must be quickly given special treatment and be isolated from adults.

Meanwhile, Zomba District Commissioner, Emmanuel Bambe, is thinking big.

He is advocating long-term development planning.

“We need to have long-term plans in terms of disaster preparedness,” he says.

In the case of Malawi, this is possible—but only possible if wishes were horses which beggars could ride on!

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