Counting the cost after the rains

Written by  McDonald Chiwayula

In the midst of the night, as Esther Ngalande and her siblings were fast asleep in their house in Chiradzulu West Constituency, heavy rain drops could be heard pounding the roof.

Some beneficiaries in T/A Chitera Chiradzulu pose with the donors Some beneficiaries in T/A Chitera Chiradzulu pose with the donors

Then it rained and rained incessantly till the walls couldn’t withstand the pressure. Eventually, the walls curved in seriously injuring a member of the family who was rushed to Chiradzulu District Hospital and got admitted for sustaining head injuries.


In a few hours after the rains started, Ngalande and her sisters lost everything they had. As a child headed family, life became unbearable with all basic amenities for survival washed away.


In other districts thousands of people have faced a similar or worst situation to the Ngalandes. According to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) report released on 8th March 2019, close to one hundred fifteen thousand people are affected, twenty three confirmed dead, eleven missing and twenty nine sustained serious injuries.


However as the rains persistently fell, the United Nations Malawi Office issued a statement with new statistics unraveling the gravity of the disaster.


The UN says close to 800,000 people have been affected by the torrential rains and flash floods with 45 deaths registered and 15,000 households displaced.


The torrential rains have left thousands of people homeless


On 8th March 2019, His Excellency the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika declared State of Disaster in all areas hit by the floods. So far 14 Districts including Chiradzulu have been devastated by the flash floods.


Against this background a group of well wishers known as Chiradzulu West Trust Fund has stepped in on the scene to alleviate the suffering of flood victims. The group which comprises of business people, academicians and company executives from Chiradzulu West Constituency, mobilised resources to support those affected.


Acting Chairperson for the Trust Medson Kalambule said despite that the group’s main objective is support educational needs of needy students from Chiradzulu West Constituency, the calamity that has befallen many households in the constituency cannot be ignored.


“We have come to cheer and show our solidarity with people suffering from the devastation caused by heavy rains experienced in the past week. We have brought plastic cups, plastic buckets, maize flour, plastic sheets rolls, packets of soap and packets of salt to be given to each victim of the floods.


“Though this is somehow a deviation from our core business of supporting needy students and bringing youth centred programmes, but this is a catastrophe and we have to step in while they are waiting for relief items from government and other development partners,” said Kalambule.


In his remarks, Village Headman Kowela said the donation by Chiradzulu West Trust Fund has come at the appropriate time as his subjects are reeling from the hard hitting rains.


“This area has a number of households who are basically back to square one. They have lost the crops in the field, household items and some of them their houses are partially destroyed or totally inhabitable. The flour, the sheets and everything else donated will surely make a difference in their lives,” said GVH Kowela.


On her part, Treasurer for Chiradzulu West Trust Fund, Evelyn Mwapasa, said the group raised over a million Kwacha to purchase the relief items.


Evelyn Mwapasa, divulging more information on the donation


“The financial resources enabling us to stretch our hand to affected families here have come from people of goodwill who hail from this constituency including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano.


“We raised one million and twenty thousand Kwacha for this cause. The thinking was that boys and girls from this area cannot manage to attend classes properly if they have no proper place to sleep since their houses are destroyed by the rains. Secondly going to school on an empty stomach is a non starter hence our support. We have managed to reach over a hundred households with this donation,’’ said Mwapasa.

Commenting on the development, Economics Association of Malawi Executive Director, Maleka Thula, said the floods have a potential to affect the projected good crop yield for 2018/19 agricultural season.


“We cannot underrate the impact of the torrential rains on national economy. However, the actual outturn will depend on the magnitude of the floods on crop productivity. Should the impact be significant to reduce the yield, then this will weigh down the contribution of the agricultural sector to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Furthermore, if reduction of crop yield is significant would induce food inflationary pressures,” said Thula.



'The torrential rains have a negative bearing on the economy'-ECAMA


Environmentalists warn that high emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide coupled with wanton cutting down of trees are leading causes to global warming that is consequently blamed for harsh climatic conditions and unfavourable weather patterns being experienced globally.


The torrential rains in the past week have done more damage to Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.


Aljazeera News Network reported that at least 66 people have been killed in Mozambique, 45 in Malawi and four in South Africa following torrential rains that have triggered flash floods.


In the latest forecasts the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (MET) disclosed that the country should brace up for more unbearable weather conditions commencing Friday 15th March as another cycle of torrential rains are expected to hit the country as seen on this social media link:


In a statement Director for MET, Jolamu Nkhokwe said Tropical Cyclone Idai is expected to make landfall in Beira, Mozambique, bringing with it heavy rainfall and strong winds from 14th to 17th March 2019. This is likely to affect the Southern parts of Malawi.


Jolamu Nkhokwe, warning of severe weather ahead


DoDMA’s Principal Secretary Wilson Mollen appealed to local and international organizations to assist the Malawi government in any way they can for the displaced households to get shelter, food and other essentials.


Chiradzulu West Trust Fund and all other players already on the ground have started the ball rolling. Now echoing Mollen’s words, there’s need for concerted efforts to support the vulnerable that have been squeezed hard with the catastrophe. Taking this proactive approach will alleviate the suffering of people like Esther Ngalande as they start counting the cost after the rains.


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