Malawi has appealed for international aid for nearly a million people affected by floods from Cyclone Idai. Authorities say people in cyclone-affected areas are in dire need of food, water, shelter, and sanitation.
The appeal is for aid targeting 162,000 households in areas worst hit by Cyclone Idai’s flood waters.
Official figures show the cyclone killed 60 people, injured more than 600 and displaced hundreds of thousands, many to temporary camps.
Minister of Homeland Security in Malawi Nicholas Dausi said they are in dire need of food, shelter and sanitation.
“Our intention is to tell the world that Malawi has a big problem regarding the natural disaster that has befallen us,” he said. “It’s an appeal to both monetary and humanitarian assistance to the international world even people of goodwill to come for an assistance. There is desperation in the camps.”
Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management said the country needs about $43 million for cyclone relief. But authorities say they have secured less than half that amount.
Catherine Bodza, a flood-displaced villager in Chikwawa district, said there are problems at the camp because of food shortages.
She said they were initially given maize flour in a cup of water to cook porridge and later were given a plate of maize flour.
Recently, she added, they have been given two basins of maize flour. But most of the time, she said they sleep without eating anything.
Flood victim Paul Mwandiyamba said most of the assistance they have received is from politicians running for office in upcoming May elections.
He said when they come with one bag of maize, they tell us to eat together in a group. This is not practical, he added, because some of us have four children and others have five children. It is still not enough.
In many areas of Malawi’s East Bank, providing cyclone relief aid is still a problem because of damaged roads and bridges.
Maria Jose Torres, country coordinator for the United Nations Development Program, said efforts are being made to help Malawi meet the needs of flood-affected people.
“The United Nations is working towards implementing the plan,” she said. “We are already mobilizing from out [of] central emergency response funds. It’s now pointing to [a] million dollars but we are acknowledging that actually it is not enough and will continue with the effort to bring more attention.”
Cyclone Idai hit central Mozambique in early March, swamping entire villages with heavy rains that flooded parts of southern Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika in early March declared half the country’s districts disaster areas.