MACRA hands over 25 satellite phones to DoDMA 

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) have handed over the 25 satellite phones which it pledged to be provided to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) to be used for critical communication in the affected areas.

This is an assistance from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as Malawi is grappling with the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that left hundreds dead, various others still missing and property as well as infrastructure severely damaged — rendering communication in other parts impossible.

MACRA’s Edward Kauka (right) handing over the phones to DODMA’s Peter Chimangeni

In response, MACRA set up Emergency Operating Centre at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre which will be coordinating communication efforts as well as donating K50 million to DoDMA as food relief package.

When presenting the food package at the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouses in Limbe last week, MACRA Director General, Daud Suleman also announced that the yet to roll out mobile service provider, Starlink Lilongwe Limited — a company owned by SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, United States of America a company owned by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, USA — has also provided 50 satellite units to be used for the satellite phones.

Spectrum monitoring officer Tamanda Mlanga demonstrating to Chimangeni how to use the phone

In October last year, MACRA granted its first-ever high-speed low latency broadband satellite internet service licenses to Starlink.

Meanwhile, from the new preliminary reports that DoDMA received from Councils as of Monday evening, indicates that the death toll keep rising — from 476 to 499 with 1,332 injuries and 427 people reported missing from 349.

The number of displaced people is at 508,244 — with 534 camps set to accommodate the displaced in 15 affected Councils of Balaka, Blantyre City, Blantyre District, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, Zomba City and Zomba District.

DoDMA also reports that the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the United Kingdom search and rescue teams continue their operations.

“The MDF is also airlifting relief items, medical supplies, and personnel to places not accessible by road. In addition, the helicopters dispatched by the governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of Zambia continue airlifting relief assistance to areas that are inaccessible by road and water.

“The helicopters have also started airlifting people in need of medical attention from affected districts to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH).

“The national interagency assessment team is supporting affected councils with assessments to establish the total number of affected people and their immediate needs.”

The Department also acknowledges that following the declaration of a state of disaster by President Lazarus Chakwera, foreign missions, governments, local and international organizations, companies, and individuals of goodwill continue providing various support towards the response operations.

The department will regularly update the general public on provision of assistance, usage and any related development.

DoDMA, while assuring the public that it will be regularly updating the general public on provision of assistance, usage and any related development, also reiterates that the affected people in clusters (sector working groups), require various relief items such as:

* Shelter (tarpaulin (4x6m), family tents/big tents; plastic sheet (120 micron), blankets, sleeping mats);

* Protection (clothes, lighting lamps, dignity kits);

* Heath (mosquito nets, mobile clinic services;

* Non-food items (plates, cups, pots);

* WASH (mobile toilets, water treatment chemicals, soap, buckets);

* Food & nutrition (maize/maize flour); corn soya blend, ready to use therapeutic food, cooking oil, pulses (beans, peas etc), soya pieces dry fish/kapenta, sugar, salt).

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