/ 30 January 2008

Worse to come in flooded Malawi

Rising flood waters devastating crops, livestock and infrastructure across half the coutry and menacing more than 73 000 Malawians are going to get worse, government officials said on Wednesday.

”It’s getting worse in Malawi because it is raining every day,” said Lilian Ng’oma, a senior official in the Disaster Management Ministry. ”We expect more rains and more flooding this year.”

Three people have died so far in the floods, she added. ”So far, a total of 12 199 households or about 73 000 people have been affected in different ways.”

Ng’oma said the floods and storms that have pummelled half of the country’s 28 districts have ”damaged houses, livestock, crops and infrastucture such as roads and bridges”.

Relief efforts are being hampered by the fact that some parts of the country, near the border with Mozambique, can now only be reached by boat.

”If the situation does not improve, we will approach the army to assist us in lifting relief assistance by helicopter to Makhanga,” Ng’oma said.

About 2 500 Mozambicans living along the flooded Shire River have also crossed into Malawi in boats, she added. ”Water and crocodiles are everywhere and the easiest place to run to is Malawi,” she said.

Malawi has spent $360 000 on relief operations since last November, she said.

The country’s meteorological services have warned that heavy rains may induce heavy flooding in flood-prone areas like the Lower Shire Valley.

On January 16, the International Red Cross launched an appeal for €5-million in aid for the Southern African to help mitigate the effects of the floods that have swept across the region. — Sapa-AFP