Bishop Peter Musikuwa of Chikwawa Dioeces of the influential Roman Catholic Church has appealed for global prayer and material support for the flood victims in his country where at least 176 have been killed with many more missing and 200,000 homeless.
The floods, which have wreaked havoc on half the the country’s 28 districts, have disrupted power supplies, plunging some areas into darkness.
Bishop Musikuwa visited Nsanje where 86,000 people have been affected with the floods .
“This is worse disaster in Malawi. We need prayer and humanitarian support,” said the Bishop. “The international community should come in and help us. The support is needed immediately.”
The Bishop said he was “deeply shocked” when he saw a woman giving birth while trapped by floodwaters. She was rescued.
Both mother and the baby were fine.
The mother told Nyasa Times reporter that she delivered in floodwater “with the grace of God.”
“I am appealing for assistance from well wishers. My baby has developed some rushes and when l went to the hospital they instructed me to go to the pharmancy to buy a certain medicine which l cannot afford,” she said.
Nsanje district commissioner Harry Phiri said at Bangura Primary School during the launch of food distribution programme in the district by the Vice President Saulosi Chilima and World Vision Malawi that they need materials like food, tents and blankets to the affected people especially those who have been put in evacuation centres.
The government has also warned of the impact the floods will have on health services, fearing the spread of water-borne diseases.
“The health care system will be disrupted as people will not get services and some might have lost their drugs such as ARVs. Children will not be vaccinated,” said Malawi’s health ministry spokesman Henry Chimbali.
“Sanitation will be compromised now with waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid likely to occur.”
Large areas of land in southern Malawi are now completely submerged. The on-going rains and damaged infrastructure – some key roads and bridges have been washed away – are further complicating rescue operations.
Rescuers are also trying to find bodies of people believed to have drowned in the Shire River. Some people have also been reluctant to leave their farms and now local elders have been tasked with ensuring everyone is taken to camps on higher, dry land.
Meanwhile, Anglican Bishop Brighton Malasa of the Diocese of Upper Shire has added his voice to the appeal for “ehumanitarian support such as soap, clothes, cereals, sugar, blankets and tents”
He said “babies also need milk [because] they are in danger of suffering from malnutrition.”
UNICEF Country Representative in Malawi Mahimbo Mdoe said, “Communities, government, NGOs and the U.N. are working together to avert a humanitarian disaster but the rains are persistent and we remain on high alert as the flooding spreads to other areas.”
Despite efforts being made by organizations such as UNICEF, Malasa said this “painful journey” cannot be walked alone and that the church also needs to take an upper hand.
“As a church, we are called to minister to people who are suffering in such difficult situations. We are called to bring full life to them using the already available resources,” he said.
The Diocese of Upper Shire has since set up a special relief committee headed by the Very Rev. John Chilombe, dean of the cathedral, and the Ven. John Mchakama, vicar general of the diocese, to make sure that the needs of the people are addressed as soon as possible.
The southern part of Malawi is prone to seasonal floods and droughts especially in the early months of the year. In January last year more than 5000 were displaced following heavy rains.
Malawi is a country where the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly in the community is appreciated. The bishop said, “The oldest people in our communities are saying they have not seen such rains (and floods) in the past 50 years.”
For more information and details about how to donate contact:
Canon John Chilombe, dean of the cathedral, at [email protected]
The Rt. Rev. Brighton Malasa, bishop of the Upper Shire, at [email protected]Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :