Malawi hailstorm: Hundreds left homeless, crops destroyed

One of the most violent hailstorms to hit Malawi has left hundreds of families destitute and several hectares of various crops destroyed in the northern region districts of Mzimba and Chitipa, officials have confirmed.

Since the rainy season began, thousands of farming families across the country have been displaced and their crops washed away by floods, sparking more fears of poorer harvest in an already staple food-short country.

Published statistics show that over two million Malawians, whose staple food crop is maize, are facing acute food shortage.

The hailstorm that was accompanied by strong winds has destroyed several hectares of maize, groundnuts, soya beans and tobacco in addition to blowing away roofs of houses, churches and school blocks.

Presidential aide Rev Malani Mtonga greets a hailstorm victim in Karonga after presenting relief items from President Joyce Banda

Presidential aide Rev Malani Mtonga greets a hailstorm victim in Karonga after presenting relief items from President Joyce Banda

In Mzimba, the District Disaster Preparedness Officer, James Tembo, said the incident occurred in the area of Traditional Authority Chindi but could not immediately ascertain the actual magnitude of the damage.

But estimates indicate the hailstorm has left destroyed, over 30 hectares of maize, about five hectares of groundnuts, three hectares of soya beans and unspecified hectares of tobacco, in the country’s biggest district.

“Our officers are currently in the field assessing the damage, we expect this exercise to take about two days due to the size of the affected area,” Tembo said.

The incident comes barely a few weeks after heavy rains rendered more than 100 farming families down-and-out at Ekwendeni Trading Centre in the same district.

The hailstorm has also destroyed over 230 hectares of beans, 115 hectares of maize, 18 hectares each for tobacco and soya beans in villages of Labani, Solomoni and Nyamba 2 in the area of Senior Chief Mwaulambia in Chitipa.

An official from the Chitipa Agricultural office, Lackson Msukwa, said about 200 farming families have been dispossessed and are in desperate need of basic commodities and food supply.

He said several houses, including a church belonging to CCAP, have had their roofs blown off.

Meanwhile, about 180 victims of the last week’s violent hailstorm that whipped five villages from Group Village Headmen Mwangolera and Kayuni in Paramount Chief Kyungu’s area in the northern border district of Karonga have received relief maize from President Joyce Banda.

President Banda’s senior aide Rev. Malani Mtonga presented the maize to the victims on Monday.

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