LILONGWE – The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development this week provided US$4.5 million towards humanitarian response for displaced people, following heavy rains and catastrophic floods in the south of Malawi.
The funds donated to fund the works of UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP) and Red Cross programmes in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, will be channeled towards the provision of food, health, shelter, logistics, water and sanitation.
“The floods and devastation linked to the recent Cyclone Idai weather system have had a shocking impact on the region, including on southern Malawi,” said DFID Malawi Head of Office, David Beer.
“The UK is absolutely committed to supporting Malawians who have been affected. The £3.4 million of funding for immediate food, shelter, health and water and sanitation needs will help Malawians deal with the immediate impact.”
Figures from the Department of Disaster Management and Preparedness show more than 860,000 people have been impacted in the 15 affected districts since March 9, including 56 deaths and 672 injuries.
Nearly 87,000 of the displaced people were said to be living in 173 camps late this week, while additional rains associated with Cyclone Idai continued to complicate the humanitarian response by limiting access to vulnerable communities.
With thousands forced out of their flooded homes, many families were living in temporary shelters, where they lacked basic supplies including food, water and sanitation facilities.
“UNICEF’s priority is to help children and families who have lost their homes and are living in evacuation centres or with other families in their communities,” said UNICEF Malawi Representative, Johannes Wedenig.
“We are already distributing life-saving health, nutrition, water and sanitation supplies to camps and communities across the affected districts. The new UK aid funding will allow us to scale up our response and help even more people.”
WFP’s Malawi Country Director, Benoit Thiry, said the gesture would boost their efforts to reach out to more of the distressed people.
“WFP is grateful to UK aid for its generous support,” said Thiry.
“We are working around the clock provide food assistance to people facing incredible hardship. This timely contribution, will assist WFP in stepping up assistance to areas worst affected by the floods.”
There were displaced populations in 187 locations, including schools and makeshift shelters, with the majority of those located far from health units, while normal health services had been disrupted, water and sanitation facilities destroyed, cutting off access to safe water supplies.
The flooding also contaminated existing boreholes. Faced with water shortages, people moving into emergency camps were said to be relying on unsafe water sources, placing their health at great risk.
The UK aid funding was expected to help UNICEF reach priority camps with two mobile outreach clinics per district, comprising a team of seven including a nurse, midwife, clinical officer, health surveillance assistant, environmental health officer and pharmacist.
It would also provide public health services targeted to prevent and respond to disease outbreaks, provide safe sanitation and hygiene facilities in emergency camps, distribute water purification chemicals and water tanks for safe water storage and provide hygiene materials, including soap, buckets and educational materials rehabilitate non-functional water systems.