At least 16 people have lost their lives while over 13 000 households have been affected by floods and stormy rains that have hit some parts of the country, The Nation has learnt.
In an interview yesterday, Department of Disaster and Management Affairs (Dodma) spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said since October 12 last year, floods have claimed nine lives in Lilongwe, three in Dedza, two in Nkhotakota, and one each in Machinga and Zomba.
Other districts that have been hit by the floods are Salima, Karonga and Phalombe.
During The Nation’s visit to Phalombe on Tuesday and Wednesday, we established that 290 households from six villages of Likatchale, Mwanyewe, Hamela, NampingaTibu and Harapera in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kaduya in the district were affected, with 328 people rendered homeless.
This compelled Phalombe District Council to relocate the affected families to Phaloni Primary School in the district, a situation the school’s head teacher Nelson Teputepu said has affected lessons.
WhenThe Nation visited the school where the flood victims are seeking shelter, there was a sombre mood among the villagers, who looked hopeless.
Their houses were still submerged in water, and some victims were seen sowing rice, probably in an attempt to replace their lost maize crop.
Women and school children also looked destitute while others were being attended to by health personnel who have been dispatched by the council to treat victims.
In an interview yesterday, affected villager Patricia Makhumba lamented that her family had lost livestock, household equipment and that their maize crop had been washed away.
She said the villagers were surprised that they still fell victim to floods despite having a dyke that was constructed along Namphende River to protect over 3 000 households in the area. The dyke was constructed with Local Development Funds (LDF).
“I have lost my 12 goats and maize has been washed away. We are appealing to well-wishers to help us survive this catastrophic situation. People here are starving,” said Makhumba.
The victims are in dire need of foodstuffs. As of yesterday, the council had supplied them with 2 kilogramme packs of maize flour per family, which they said was not enough.
“We have been hit by malaria because we don’t have mosquito nets. We are happy that the council responded swiftly to the floods by providing us medical personnel here, but the problem is that you cannot take medication on an empty stomach. Some of us are taking ARVs [anti-retroviral drugs] and we need food,” said Suzana Khoviwa, another victim.
Reacting to the floods, T/A Kaduya said many people are living in danger as over half of the houses in the six villages developed cracks.
She said the affected villages were also hit by floods in 2015 and they thought they were safe now with the construction of the dyke.
“The dyke gave people false hope. I was even surprised when I heard that the dyke has been washed away and that people were using boats to go to Phaloni Primary School for their safety. This is a serious disaster,” said Kaduya.
In an interview yesterday, Khamula said his department was aware of the floods that hit Phalombe, Salima, Karonga and Lilongwe last week.
He said Dodma had provided affected areas with relief items such as maize, blankets and plates.
“As I am talking now, I am coming from Salima where we have distributed some relief items to 449 flood victims. For Karonga, we were expected to distribute yesterday [Tuesday] and in Phalombe we are expected to distribute the relief items tomorrow [today]. I am sure, within the week, we would have responded to all the affected districts,” Khamula said.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima, in his capacity as Minister of Disaster Management Affairs, is today scheduled to visit flood victims in Phalombe. n