Malawians should brace for heavy rains this week that will trigger floods in low-lying and flood-prone areas, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (MET) has warned.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has since warned people to take precautionary measures such as moving to higher grounds and avoid crossing flooding rivers.
In a statement issued on January 4 2020 and signed by MET director Jolamu Nkhokwe, the department states that the severe weather may lead to a national disaster due to severe floods which have already damaged property in the Lilongwe and other areas.
Nkhokwe in the statement says there is still presence of a deep low pressure associated with an active Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) currently oscillating over the South and Central areas of the country.
Reads the statement in part: “Following the heavy rains that the country has been receiving over the past few days, the Malawi nation should brace for another wave of heavy rainfall, which is expected over most areas in the Centre, South and the Lakeshore areas as from January 5 to January 9 2020.
“Due to already very heavy rainfall amounts that the country has been receiving… the anticipated heavy rains, which will be accompanied by strong winds and lightning, are also likely to increase area coverage. The country is likely to experience floods and, therefore, leading to further damage and loss of property and endanger lives over most of the Centre, South and the Lakeshore areas.”
The warning follows persistent heavy rainfall which has so far damaged houses and infrastructure in Lilongwe. The rainfall led to floods which have so far displaced some families in Mchesi, Chipasula, Mgona and Area 25 in the capital city.
According Nkhonkwe, more people are likely to be affected in the Southern, Central and Northern regions in the next five days.
Meanwhile, Dodma has said it will continue working with its stakeholders to sensitise masses to any possible and upcoming floods.
In an interview yesterday, Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said following the MET warning, his department and other stakeholders have intensified awareness messages for people living in flood-prone areas to move upland.
“The department will be airing programmes and jingles on radio stations to raise awareness of the imminent flooding,” he said.
Both Khamula and Nkhokwe warned people to take precautionary measures such as moving to higher grounds when water levels start rising and avoiding crossing flooding rivers and not seeking shelter under trees and weak infrastructures.
Last year, over 196 000 people were displaced and at least 56 killed in 17 districts following heavy floods. The most affected were Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje. The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development allocated about K1.2 billion to Dodma for disaster management.