Floods sinking Malawi's economy

President Peter Mutharika told EWN the country's biggest export, tobacco, has been significantly hit.

Many houses in Malawi's Phalombi District were destroyed by the heavy rains. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

MALAWI - Malawi President Peter Mutharika has told Eyewitness News the country's biggest export commodity, tobacco, has been significantly weakened by flooding.

He said a detailed reinvestment plan is needed to get tobacco farming back on track.

The plant makes up 80 percent of Malawi's exports followed by tea.

Agriculture is the core of the country's economy and Mutharika says in addition to the two export plants, seeds and fertilisers given to citizens for subsistence farming have also been washed away.

Some of the areas worst affected by flooding include farmland used to grow Malawi's staple foods and the biggest generator of foreign currency.

Mutharika says they've been dealt a massive blow.

"Tremendous damage has been done. Our crops have been washed away."

He says an assessment is underway by his financial advisors and an economic response plan will be revealed soon.

Mutharika yesterday thanked the international community for its relief aid support for victims of heavy flooding, but says they now face the difficult task of transporting food, building materials and medicine to isolated villages.

Mutharika visited the Phalombe District south of Blantyre to inspect the devastation caused by the Sombani River which burst its banks and flooded a football field, farmlands and badly damaged a bridge.

So far, the UK government has donated around R140 million while Japan has sent just over half a million rand to help with the relief efforts to help an estimated 120,000 displaced citizens.

Speaking during a visit to the flood stricken Phalombe District, Mutharika says more relief aid is expected to arrive in Malawi soon, but the problem is getting the supplies to the people it's meant for.

"There are supplies in Blantyre but to get them here is very difficult. That's why there have been some delays."

Mutharika has admitted that people in some of the flooded areas have still not received any support.

"They are working on coordination. I think that everybody that's been affected will receive some kind of relief."

International relief group, Doctors Without Borders, estimates that 20,000 people are still isolated in the country's southern villages.

GDP growth was estimated at around five percent last year but allegations of corruptions in government has caused donors to withhold R300 million from this year's budget.