Karonga hailstorm victims get relief items from Pres Banda: Mtonga presents

Malawi President Joyce Banda has distributed relief aid to about 200 families in northern region’s border district of Karonga following a hailstorm that left many homeless and in dire need of food supplie recently.

Karonga is one of disaster prone districts in the country and is subjected to perennial floods, strong winds and dry spell in some areas.

Apart from floods that hit the district recently, Karonga was also hit by violent hailstorm which according to the district council officials wrecked havoc to five villages that are under the jurisdiction of Paramount Chief Kyungu.

In a disaster report dated January 24, 2013 signed by Karonga District Commissioner Emmanuel Bambe, the storm left most houses destroyed and crops devastated.

Getting the community back on its feet: Mtonga presents relief items to Karonga hailstorm victims from President Joyce Banda
Getting the community back on its feet: Mtonga presents relief items to Karonga hailstorm victims from President Joyce Banda
Malani donates maize to hailstorm victim in Karonga as Chief Kyungu looks on
Malani donates maize to hailstorm victim in Karonga as Chief Kyungu looks on

He therefore put the official figure of vulnerable households that needed urgent attention at 184.

“Due to storms that occurred on 22nd January 2013, in Paramount chief Kyungu area houses had their rooftops blown off. The incident occurred in two GVH’s namely Mwangolera and Kayuni affecting five village heads. The total number of households is 184,” said Bambe in the report ref. no 2/23/9.

Meanwhile, according to State House officials, when President Banda heard about the shocking news which happened just days before she left for African Union summit, she used her personal funds to buy 1,000 bags of maize from Farmers World in an attempt to reach out to the affected families.

President Banda’s senior aide Rev. Malani Mtonga told Nyasa Times that apart from her personal initiative to intervene on the matter, the President also asked Disaster management affairs department to also assess the situation and provide relief items as soon as possible.

Said Rev. Mtonga: “The president heard about the hailstorm which hit parts of Karonga district just a day before she left  for Ethiopia. She then mobilized her own funds and bought the maize which I am distributing on her behalf to the affected people.”

Mtonga added: “Apart from maize from the president, the Malawi government through the department of disaster management is also on the ground assessing the gravity of the damage caused by the storm and I can assure you that in the next few days to come more victims would benefit from the relief donation as well.”

On his part, Paramount Chief Kyungu said was lost for words and was shocked with the President’s rapid response.

“I had a meeting with both the DC and MP for the area Dr. Cornelius Mwalwanda. We agreed that the DC should inform the disaster management about the disaster while the parliamentarian was tasked with the responsibility of informing the head of state right away.

“What has shocked me is the manner at which the president has responded. We’re talking of January 22nd and today is the 28th it is unbelievable that just within five days the maize was purchased and ferried here using her own personal funds. Today the most affected families have received two bags of maize each. This is very encouraging and I’m thankful to the president for rescuing my people,” said Kyungu.

Apart from Chief Kyungu, Rev. Mtonga and Bambe, also present during the donation of the relief items to six most affected sites was Dr. Mwalwanda, ruling Peoples Party executive member Dr. Du Mhango and traditional leaders from the affected areas.

The heavily affected villages are Melele, Mwasota, Ngosi, Mwalughali and Mwenelupembe.

Since taking office in April last year, President Banda has been making headlines for her relief efforts which have seen her distributing maize to the country’s hunger stricken families.

Official statistics indicate that at least two million Malawians are under severe starvation and the president has used the shocking figures to justify her controversial distribution of maize which has attracted jitters from the opposition and a handful civil society groups.

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