Malawi floods: Phalombe hit hard by flooding

President Mutharika is in the district to inspect damage caused by flooding over the past week.

This handout photo released by the World Food Programme shows an aerial view of a flooded area in Chikwawa area, in Malawi, on January 17, 2015. Picture: AFP/World Food Programme.

PHALOMBE - Malawian President Peter Mutharika is in the Phalombe district to inspect damage caused by flooding over the past week as rescue and relief efforts continue in the surrounding villages.

Mutharika has spent the past three days there which is one of the worst affected areas in Malawi.

Last week, he declared 15 of the country's districts disaster areas and announced that half of Malawi had been affected by week-long torrential rain.

The road to the district is lined with barely-standing houses and dry river banks that have been significantly eroded by the floods.

Swollen rivers and the lush green landscape offer evidence of the heavy rains that have lashed Malawi in January 2015.

Relief group AMRA spokesman Ahmed Jakura says some people still remain isolated in areas where they have provided relief packs.

"The situation is quite dire. There are some totally water-logged areas and totally water-logged trading centres. Life as normal has totally been ground to a halt."

Mutharika has been inspecting relief efforts in the region and is due to officially open a new road leading towards the river tomorrow.

RESPONSE PLAN

Malawi's temporary response plan to the floods is due to be rolled out in the coming days following a briefing by the Department of Disaster Management to the country's Vice President Saulos Chilima on Wednesday.

The latest situation report from the government estimates that 50 people have been killed and 153 others are missing.

This is in stark contrast to an earlier reported death toll of more than 200, which officials in Lilongwe say was a misrepresentation of people unaccounted for.

A further 121,000 people have lost their homes to the storm, which started at the beginning of last week and is only subsiding now.

Residents of Blantyre queue for safe drinking water on 21 January 2015 after floods contaminated the local water supply.

In addition to this, the state says 200,000 pupils will not be able to attend schools because the buildings have either been destroyed or are being used as temporary shelters in the wake of the devastation.

The report recommends 800 tents be set up as temporary classrooms while 'school-in-a-box kits' are prepared to supplement the loss of study material.

But of greater concern to the disaster management team is disease outbreaks, which it says is becoming more probable 'considering poor sanitation conditions' at the camps where the displaced people have been moved.

Images Aletta Gardner