- Title: MALAWI: Aid agencies deploy in southern Malawi after heavy floods
- Date: 28th January 2008
- Summary: FLOOD VICTIMS WITH CHILDREN IN A SHELTER
- Embargoed: 12th February 2008 12:00
- Location: Malawi
- Country: Malawi
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAD6EIFKZVS0L58Q5U650EJOW7A
- Story Text: Aid agencies are working to assist hundreds of thousands of people in southern Africa who are affected by floods devastating the region.
: Parts of Malawi are still facing floods after several rivers burst their banks in the country's southern region following unusually heavy rains.
According to Action by Churches Together (ACT), the flooding has swept away crops, livestock, as well as submerging houses. Over 500 families in just one of southern Malawi's districts have lost their homes, and an estimated 16,800 people have moved to higher ground.
The organisation also reported hundreds of others are still living in waterlogged marshy areas, where there is a likelihood of the Shire River also bursting its banks, which will cause further heavy flooding.
In Chikwawa District, displaced people say they have no shelter, food, clothing or clean water. There is also a high risk of communicable and water-borne diseases.
ACT and other relief agencies have been working in the affected areas, assisting with distribution of various relief items and the construction of temporary housing.
"We asked them to construct some housing here to act as temporary accommodation for their families until we find them a proper settlement area," Allan Genti, a Red Cross official said.
Victims of the floods said they were surprised by the intensity of the rainfall.
"The floods occurred at night. The rain was too heavy. I lost everything and I had no choice but to leave for higher ground," Faiza Simenti, a flood victim said.
Heavy downpours are common in southern Africa in the annual rainy season, which runs generally from November to April, but the relentless rain is unusual and has caught officials in the region off guard.
Malawi is encouraging people to move to areas further upland.
"People have seen for themselves that it's very bad to still cling and stay where there are floods. And I think it's a lesson for them because there are so many things that are destroyed. You talking of crops, you talk of houses, you talk of even animals. So it's a big lesson that it's going to be difficult for them to still stay in the areas where they are," said Lawford Palani, the acting commissioner of Chikwawa District.
In 2006, about 40,000 people were displaced from their homes in Malawi during the rainy season. Meteorologists warn that the rains are bound to get heavier in the coming month.
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