It could turn out to be a disastrous Christmas and New Year festive season as the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has issued a fresh warning of floods resulting from incessant rains.
A statement dated December 23 and signed by the department’s director Jolamu Nkhokwe said a wet weather phenomenon could lead to flooding in the Northern and Central areas up to December 30 2018.
The warning comes against a background of floods that have affected parts of Mangochi, Salima, Mwanza, Nsanje and Chikwawa districts, displacing hundreds of people.
“Most areas over North and Centre of the country will experience scattered thunderstorms associated with locally heavy downpour, strong winds, hail and lightning while most areas in the South will experience isolated thunderstorms associated with locally heavy downpour.
“The expected rains and locally heavy downpours are likely to cause flash-floods and river flooding as a result of swelling of rivers due to siltation worsened by environmental degradation as the soil is already very wet in most parts of the country and poor drainage system, particularly in cities and towns. The public is, therefore, advised to avoid crossing swelling rivers,” reads the statement.
The department issued a similar warning in November.
Malawi is this year experiencing the El Nino weather phenomenon associated with flooding and dry spells in some areas, according to the Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet).
The Ministry of Homeland Security, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), has since advised people in flood-prone areas to move upland to avoid being swept away by the floods.
In a written response following the latest warning, Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula yesterday said the department was placing relief items in strategic places to expedite emergency relief responses.
He said: “We have been proactive in our operations in order to respond to disasters with speed despite early warnings systems and weather updates. As a government agency that coordinates the implementation of disaster risk management programmes in the country, we have standby rescue equipment and personnel ready for deployment in flood-prone areas.”
Khamula said Dodma has built disaster evacuation centres in flood-prone districts of Mangochi, Nsanje, Salima, Karonga and Chikwawa to help people severely affected by flooding.