UN agencies ramp up aid efforts to flood-hit Southern Africa countries

20 January 2015

With Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar continuing to face torrential rains and worsening floods, United Nations agencies are scaling up relief efforts to assist those affected and displaced in the southern African countries.

In Madagascar, ‘despite the severe impact, aid workers on the ground estimate that the in-country response capacities, including prepositioned stocks, of the Government and its UN and NGO [non-governmental organization] partners could address the current needs,’ Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists in Geneva today.

Tropical storm Chedza has now killed some 14 people and displaced over 44,000 in Madagascar. A total of 101,000 people have been affected by the storm and attendat flooding.

“There has been severe damage of infrastructure as nearly 4,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged,” said Mr. Laerke, adding that the storm also damaged eight health centres and 200 schools.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is providing emergency food assistance to some 15,000 people affected as the storm passed over the southwest and southeast of Madagascar, as well as the country’s capital, Antananarivo, added Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for WFP, in the same briefing.

Moreover, WFP has distributed two tons of nutritious energy biscuits to young children and vulnerable people who are accommodated in temporary housing in Antananarivo, as an addition to rations food received from local authorities to boost nutrition.

According to Ms. Byrs, WFP will also assist 5,000 people staying in 'very precarious' temporary accommodations in a poor neighbourhood of Antananarivo, by providing 23 tonnes of rice, pulses and high energy biscuits.

In addition, WFP has distributed 17 tons of rice, pulses and enriched oil in Manakara Vohipeno and the southeast of the country.

Turning to Malawi, Mr. Laerke said that search and rescue operations continue with relief supplies being dispatched to affected areas, and such assistance includes food and non-food items and chlorine for water treatment in affected communities.

WFP began to deliver maize, beans, oil and super-cereal – a fortified corn blend – from in-country stocks to those displaced in Chikwawa district of Malawi on Saturday. However, Ms. Byrs stressed that the stocks will need to be replaced once the crisis is over.

Distributions continue in that district and emergencies rations are due to arrive in Malawi today from the WFP-managed Dubai Humanitarian Depot.

The estimated number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remains at 121,000, with at least 50 people killed and 153 missing. The number of IDPs may increase as need assessments are still ongoing, Mr. Laerke noted.

In Mozambique, rescue activities are still ongoing, but mainly by air, as over 90,000 people have been affected by the floods in the central and southern parts of the country.

According to Mr. Laerke, at least 2,500 people have been brought to safety by the national Civil Protection Unit. He also added that latest reports show that 34 accommodation centres are hosting more than 28,000 people, as over 10,000 houses and 383 classrooms have been destroyed.

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Major floods in Malawi, Mozambique force thousands to flee their homes – UN

United Nations agencies are gearing up for relief efforts in Malawi and neighbouring Mozambique, where heavy rains have caused severe flooding, displaced thousands of people and left scores dead.