For a country that is chronically hit by dry spells and food scarcity, the sight of rainfall brings immense joy. Rain is a sign of abundance and food security. Too much rainfall, on the other hand, is a recipe for concern. Flooding can wash away crops, destroy houses and property and be a threat to humans and livestock.
It had been raining nonstop for three days and water was rising slowly. First it filled out the yard, then covered the verandah area before seeping into the mud and stick house belonging to Ethel Mwaonga. “I woke up to the sound of people screaming and scrambling to get into boats,” Ethel recalls. “I took my baby and a few clothes and ran into a boat.”
The sound of a bell rings out to announce that the school day has just finished at Kathebwe Primary School. It’s a hot, sunny day. Children run outside and start to disperse. Some go home to nearby villages, while others start kicking a ball around on the school field. A third group joins their mothers and younger siblings, who are sitting with a hundred or more flood victims in the shade of a large tree. Since the heavy rains and floods of early March, this school has doubled as an evacuation centre.
Malawi’s border with neighbouring Mozambique has always been fluid. People move freely across the vast land border for trade and marriage. The language spoken in the southern border villages is often a fusion of Sena (spoken by the Sena tribe of southern Malawi) and Portuguese from Mozambique. It is not uncommon to find Malawians in these areas speaking fluent Portuguese and using a Mozambique network on their mobile phones.
The timing could hardly have been worse. Just a few weeks before Malawi’s staple maize crop was due to be harvested, heavy rains swept through the southern part of the country, taking with them the yet-to-be-collected grain, thousands of houses and cutting off access to some areas; dozens were killed.
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Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff analyze a map of the affected area ©UNICEF Malawi/2017/Jacob Nankhonya By Judith Sherman, Chief of HIV/AIDS, UNICEF Malawi At 9 am on 8 November 2017, the Deputy Director of Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), Dyce Nkhoma, received a phone call from … Continue reading Testing the use of drones for emergency flood response
A government accountant makes a cash transfer to Paulino Gideon, a beneficiary of the Social Cash Transfer Programme, in Malawi’s Mchinji District © UNICEF Malawi/2016/Amos Gumulira By Maren Platzmann, UNICEF Malawi Working in Malawi has been thrilling since the beginning. I am German, although I grew up in Belgium, close to Aachen. I studied Political … Continue reading My time working on cash transfers for the poorest families in Malawi