DoDMA says it did carry out storm warning awareness in Lower Shire ahead of Cyclone Ana

As soon as the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) warned of the impending Tropical Ana on January 22, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) carried out storm warning awareness in flood prone areas of Chikwawa and Nsanje.

This was disclosed by DoDMA’s Response & Recovery Director, Moses Chimphepo on Tuesday when FDH Holdings Plc presented K27.5 million towards the DoDMA efforts to reach out to affected flood households in Chikwawa, Nsanje, Mulanje and Phalombe — which have been hardest hit.

On Monday,  Nsanje and Chikwawa Socio-Economic Development Trust (NECK) and Mgumano wa Asena na Amang`anja attacked  Malawi government that it failed to act as quickly as it should have done as soon DCCMS forecasted the impending Tropical Cyclone.

Chiwalo (right) presenting the cheque to Chimphepo

In its statement, NECK and the Mgumano asked why the government, through DODMA at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), were not acting in a manner deserving of this unprecedented emergency and  why NGOs and other stakeholders are the most visible in the districts when government has DODMA.

NECK and Mgumano also asked why the government does not offer long term solutions to the flood-prone areas, saying this arises from “systemic failure on the part of government to address the medium to long term root causes”.

In his vote of thanks for the timely response from FDH Holdings Plc, which he said would be used to procure food and non-food relief items, Chimphepo said they did warn the people of the Lower Shire — through address systems mounted on vehicles — to move to higher grounds as soon as DCCMS forecasted the impending tropical storm.

But he said Cyclone Ana was the biggest disaster to hit Malawi, saying it is worse than Cyclone Idai which hit the nation in 2020. The rain caused by Cyclone Ana registered over 400 millimeters in 24 hours of January 23-25 while Cyclone Idai registered about 250 millimeters of rain in three days.

“Most of the people affected are also those that are on higher grounds as well as those that moved away from the usual flood prone areas,” Chimphepo said.

He further said they also swiftly mobilized themselves to deliver relief items to the affected areas but their efforts were thwarted by roads that were damaged by the floods — the main being along road from Blantyre that was cut off at five places at which some are still under rehabilitation.

He applauded assistance from Malawi Defence Force (MDF), who provided a helicopter and 10 boats; one boat from Malawi Red Cross Society and and two from the Police in their search and rescue response that helped repatriate as many people as possible from the cut off areas.

While Chikwawa and Nsanje are the worst hit, Chimphepo said there are nine districts in total that are affected in the Southern Region in which over 193,500 households, representing over 180,000 people who were rendered homeless and are in camps — 132 camps in total with 43 in Chikwawa and Nsanje alone.

Confirmed number of deaths as of Tuesday was at 33 with injuries are over 158 and those missing at 20 and are still being searched for.

He applauded FDH Bank’s swift response as the first corporate to do do so and encouraged other wellwishers to still consider any assistance since the whole recovery process is targeted to be continued in the next three months.

“The tropical storm destroyed roads, houses, power lines and water systems and needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. Currently, the roads that were cut off are under reconstruction while power was partially restored in Chikwawa and yet to be reconnected in Nsanje.

“Efforts are being made to have as many shelters as possible to move people from schools and churches where they first took refuge. These are the immediate needs and we are in the process of compiling a response plan for the next three months,” Chimphepo said.

In his remarks, FDH Discount House Managing Director, Mike Chiwalo said as a “responsible corporate citizen” they do not just “care about Malawians when there is good news or good business only [but also] care about their welfare because we are a home-grown financial institution that resonates with the needs of Malawians”.

“We extend our deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones in these terrible floods. As an institution that stands for the growth of Malawians, we believe it is our duty to reach out to the affected communities and assist them in these tough times,” he said.

As a Group, FDH Bank Plc contributed K15 million; First Discount House assisted with K7.5 million with K5 million coming from FDH Money Bureau.

The money will go towards the purchase of food and non food items such as maize flour, cooking oil, beans, soya pieces, kapenta, buckets, plates, cups and blankets in heavily affected areas of Chikwawa, Nsanje, Phalombe and Mulanje.

“Even though this donation cannot reverse the tragedy of the floods, it is a first step towards assisting these families to get back to their feet. Above all, our hearts are with those who have been affected, hence rendering the support,” Chiwalo said.

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