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Washed away

By Lorraine Lusinje:

Floods have hit the country again. Houses, property, roads and even human beings have literally been washed away. Within a week, a lot has changed for a lot of people in the country.

I remember, in 2015, floods hit the country and affected over 175,000 people. 176 lives were lost. The floods wreaked havoc in 15 districts across the country with Nsanje and Chikwawa, in the Shire Valley, being the worst affected.

Blantyre was also affected by the floods with areas like Chilobwe suffering massive damage. Power cuts, water shortage, network interruptions, transportation disruption and the standstill of most businesses was the order of the day during the three tragic days of continuous rains.

Now, after close to a week of relentless rains, 28 lives are confirmed lost and 23 people are missing. The Southern Regions, especially the Shire Valley as is usually the case, has been catastrophically hit by the rains with the M1 Road rendered impassable near Kamuzu Bridge in Chikwawa. This is an important socio-economic route in the country and the situation will have dire consequences for people and businesses.

One thing I learnt during the disaster in 2015 was that so much can be lost within a short period. The damage done within 72 hours then was unbelievable in relation to the time it takes to mitigate it. And this only applied to what could be built back, but for those that lost their lives, nothing could be done to recover those lost lives. Tragically, as a country, we seem to relive this horror over and over as is the case now. Heartfelt condolences to the people that lost their friends and relatives during this unfortunate disaster.

Understandably, life is unfair, unexpected things happen and we are forced to deal with them whether we want to or not. There is always something to learn from such tragic situations. I have heard people mention that some of the buildings that are washed away are not built to the required standards and positioning. A colleague of mine also lamented about the fact that our roads always end up being washed away during the rainy season and that the skills and expertise put into the construction of roads needs to be re-evaluated. Indeed, every time we have heavy rains even for a day, roads all over will be littered with potholes.

What we can learn from our tragedies is to be more alert in our day-to-day lives and of our surrounding. The destruction from the disasters can easily turn into a platform for innovations on how to end up in less unfortunate circumstances if such disasters were to re-occur, which is often the case.

For one, our water boards and Escom can help us by coming up with innovations to avoid massive and long-term disruption of water and power supply when heavy rains are on us. I mean the rains are strenuous enough on their own and the fact that you have to go home to a dark house with no heat, no food and no running water is like adding salt and pepper to a gaping wound.

In conclusion, and also most importantly, now that we are here in this unfortunate situation, I appeal to all Malawians to help each other during this tragic time. If there are people close to you that have been affected by the floods, it will be human to render the little support that you can. It doesn’t always need to be much; some food, some clothes, shelter, water and just the moral support will go a long way for someone who is destitute.

From the look of the things, we need to brace for more heavy rains in the country as climate change continues to take its toll. Sometimes, there is more damage done because of panic and lack of preparedness. It is largely important that, as citizens, we should be more alert and be prepared for anything; we cannot afford to keep getting ‘washed away’.

I always say “Together We Can” because when we work together, miracles happen. One such time that we need such miracles is now and it is desperately, pertinently and imperatively important that we work together.

I rest my case.

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