U.N. agencies in Malawi have started providing aid to victims from Tropical Storm Ana, which killed scores of people across southeastern Africa and left tens of thousands homeless. The U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, has provided personal hygiene and water treatment kits to approximately 15,000 people. But Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera says more assistance is needed.
The latest report from Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management says the floods killed 33 people, displaced more than 100,000 and affected nearly 200,000 households in the country.
The storm also damaged at least 19 health facilities, destroying medicines and cold chain equipment.
Mohamed Fall is UNICEF’s regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa. He is in Malawi visiting flood hit areas.
“For the moment, our focus is on life-saving commodities namely those which help for water, for sanitation, nonfood items, probably also some tents, latrines, cleaning stuff. Also, because I am sure that with water levels dropping, resettlement will be a challenge,” he said.
Fall notes that the destruction of water and sanitation facilities puts children and their families at risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera.
Meanwhile, the World Food Program announced Wednesday that it has set aside an initial amount of $500,000 for relief assistance to the flood victims.
Paul Turnbull is the WFP country director in Malawi.
“As part of our immediate response, WFP is providing corn-soya bran to some 21,000 households, around 95,000 people in four most affected districts of Chikwawa, Mulanje, Nsanje and Phalombe. Distribution started yesterday, first of February,” he said.
Turnbull added the WFP is currently prioritizing displaced people living in temporary shelters as it looks for additional resources to scale up its response.
The head of the Department of Disaster Management, Charles Kalemba, told a press conference Tuesday that the relief efforts are hampered by lack of funding despite several government appeals for financial assistance.
During his tour to affected areas Tuesday, President Lazarus Chakwera called for more assistance to help thousands of Malawians affected by floods in over half of the country’s 28 districts.
Chakwera said, “As we continue asking for more assistance from our partners, we should also make sure that in our national budget this year, we should allocate some to help rebuild public infrastructures destroyed by the storm.”
Tropical Storm Ana also killed at least 20 people in Mozambique and 48 people in Madagascar.
The Malawian president said he will soon meet with African Union heads of state to ask for support in aiding areas affected by the storm.