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Oxfam sounds SOS on disaster response

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By Eric Msikiti:

International charity, Oxfam, has warned that more Malawians and Mozambicans risk being sidelined from humanitarian assistance due to the disaster that hit parts of the two countries following Cyclone Idai.

Oxfam Southern Africa Regional Director, Nellie Nyang’wa, sounded the warning last week after visiting one of the camps at Bangula in Nsanje.

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The charity says at least 5,000 people are at the camp which has few pit latrines and does not have a bathroom.

According to Oxfam, the camp at Bangula is also a temporary home to 2,000 Mozambicans who were displaced by the floods that hit some parts of the neighbouring country.

Nyang’wa interacted with some of the survivors at the camp, including women and people with disabilities and describes the situation there as desperate.

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“The people here are in desperate need of proper shelter, food, clean water and blankets because most of them are sleeping on the muddy floors of their tents which is very bad for the women, most of whom have babies. There is also need for mosquito nets. We have seen just a few toilets but no bathing places for the people here. We hear that they have to wait for nightfall before taking a bath,” Nyang’wa said.

Nyang’wa then called for more collaboration and coordination among the agencies that are providing humanitarian assistance to the people displaced by the floods.

“What we have observed is that there are even more displaced and unaccounted for people outside than within the camps. At the same time, there is no coordination among the agencies providing aid to the affected people.

“This could lead to more assistance being provided to the same people while leaving out other equally devastated people. We, therefore, need to coordinate to effectively reach out to everyone,” Nyang’wa said.

Recently, the government of Malawi also urged district councils to coordinate with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs when responding to disasters.

Commissioner for Disaster, Wilson Molleni, told District Commissioner that coordination could solve some logistical challenges which the response face.

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