With weather forecasts indicating the possibility of more heavy rainfall and flooding in the 2015/16 rainfall season, most people in flood-prone areas, especially in the twin Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, are yet to relocate, officials have said.
In Chikwawa, 300 households against about 16 887 households, translating into an average of 92 878 people, have been relocated, according to Chikwawa disaster risk management officer Francis Kadzokoya.
In a separate interview, Chikwawa district commissioner (DC) Bester Mandere said yesterday flood victims from Jombo Village, who were at a single camp, have relocated to uplands.
Said the DC: “But all households from 28 other camps are back to their original homes, which are within the flood-prone areas.”
In Nsanje, district disaster risk management officer Humphrey Magalasi also confirmed that 2 300 households are still in the flood-prone area.
Mandere blamed traditional leaders for contributing to the delayed relocation of their subjects by claiming there is no land for relocation.
He said: “We discussed this issue at council level where we had chiefs, councillors and members of Parliament [MPs] and we had hoped that the chiefs will support us, but we were shocked to be told that they do not have land. I am afraid that if more rains come again, we will have another calamity. The main challenge is that people are not taking the issue seriously.”
Magalasi also said purported shortage of land in the district is delaying the relocation exercise. He said 6 000 people risk being washed away if they do not relocate and another downpour comes.
Commissioner for Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), Benard Sande, described the situation as discouraging.
However, he said they will do whatever possible to ensure the people move upland, urging chiefs to take relocation issue seriously to avoid another disaster.
In its seasonal forecast, Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) said the rainy season would start in November and chances are high that the country will receive normal to above normal rainfall amounts characterised by strong El-Nino.