The Board of World Mission Responded to a call for help from our brothers and sisters in Malawi following major flooding that impacted large areas of the country. Please see the photos above, and some excerpts from the report on the emergency response that took place in Malawi. The report comes form the Moravian Church in Malawi, and outlines the use of the Disaster funds.
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Excerpts from the Report
The overall goal for this project was to provide relief assistance to 800 households in Karonga who were directly affected by the floods and strong winds that hit the country from January 2015.
The project has assisted victims through
- provision of food aid
- temporary shelter
- safe water
The following items were distributed
- 110 plastic tents,
- 450 bags of maize flour each weighing 20 kilograms,
- 2500 kilograms of beans,
- 450 litres of cooking oil,
- 450 kilograms of iodised salt
- 82,000 sachets of water guard
The materials that were distributed brought relief to the families whose houses and household properties were either damaged or destroyed by the strong winds and floods. The families who received shelter covers managed to withstand the effects of heavy rains which followed after the strong winds.
Prior to the distribution of relief items, Moravian Church in Malawi conducted meetings with the Karonga District Assembly and other stakeholders to inform them about the project. During the meeting, the Malawi Government informed the church that shelter and food ware identified as a primary needs. The Government also recommended that bean rations should be reduced to 3 kilograms per household per month from 5 kilograms and use the remaining beans to target more households. Finally, the Karonga District Assembly advised that the distribution period should be completed in three months to avoid dependency syndrome developing.
Mid – Long term plan
Recovery programs have been quickly established for some targeted households and communities and this awaits a project structure that should be prepared and submitted to donors as soon as possible as a mid to long term interventions.
Moravian Church in Malawi in collaboration with Karonga District Assembly conducted beneficiary identification and the following criterion was used to identify the beneficiaries.
- The elderly people who did not have any support
- People living with HIV/AIDS
- Widows, Child headed, female headed households
- Mothers that support the under-five children
- People who did not have shelter at all
During beneficiary verification exercise, each registered household was provided with a ration card which contained the name of the beneficiary, name of the village where the beneficiary was living, name of the centre where beneficiary will receive the relief items, signature of the recipient and the witness. This was done to increase transparency and accountability and ensure the easy tracking of the beneficiaries during the whole exercise.
The distribution of the relief items was completed in collaboration with other stakeholders namely Red Cross Malawi, Evangelical Lutheran Development Service and Government Departments who were working in the designated areas.
Impact of the intervention
The emergency response to floods and strong winds disaster victims reduced the impact of the disaster to more than 4,800 people in the following ways:
Shelter and food provision
The food and shelter provision brought great relief to the affected people of Karonga and helped the affected families to start reorganizing themselves after the disaster. Provision of food to the affected families helped the people to continue with their livelihoods instead of working to get money to buy food, like farming preventing another disaster of food insecurity. The families who received shelter covers managed to withstand the effects of heavy rains which followed after the strong wids since this happened during the rainy season. This helped them to continue with other activities and slowly recover from the disaster. In schools, provision of shelter covers brought relief to the teachers and students who did not have a place to sleep but after they received the tents, normal classes continued impacting positively on girl’s education and soon the girls will be sitting for their final examinations in preparation of college education and senior education.
Provision of Waterguard helped the affected families to access safe water and this reduced the impact of water borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhoea which could have led to another public health emergency. Since Karonga district was heavily hit by floods so the availability of Waterguard helped enormously since water sources were infected through flooding. The training that community members received on how to use Waterguard will still be applied for the rest of their lives so this was an additional benefit that the project has generated for the community.
Capacity of local communities, government and civil society
The project has helped the local communities, local government and civil society to be able to respond to urgent situations concerning vulnerability. Moravian Church worked closely with the affected communities, local government, and civil society in responding to emergencies using coordinated approaches. Communities were sensitised on how and what to do in case of emergency.
The formation of the Karonga Disaster Task Force Committee which was represented by all the partners is a true reflection of ownership of the project as these are the people, direct from the grassroots, know the problems and the people. The involvement of traditional leaders at all levels brings about checks and balances of accountability and ownership of the project.
The recovery project which the government through its partners is initiating, will help the people to continue with their normal lives. So far, the government with other partners has started recovery programs like rebuilding damaged schools and hospitals.
The idea to flexen the period for distribution of relief materials will help reach out to other areas that have not been reached before with aid and also this will permit the Moravian Church and its partners to focus on community recovery which will work very well.
The following are major setbacks
- The disaster has hit 15 out of 28 districts of Malawi representing 53% of the population being affected in one way or the other hence a national disaster, the church works in all the three regions of the country reaching out to all the people but resources are little to cover most districts where needs remain eminent
- Lack of own fleet of vehicles makes planning and implementation difficult
- Continued looming hunger among many below averaged earning households
- Delayed response to the situation
The most significant challenges, however, will be in the long term. “The devastation in these communities will far outlast the rains,”. Even once the floodwaters recede, many families will be left without housing, without latrines, without many of their possessions, and without their recently planted crops. Because the floods hit a population that was already so vulnerable, replacing these resources and rebuilding infrastructure will require significant investment.
- The flood disaster has been declared the worst to have occurred in the recent history of Malawi affecting a large percentage of the population
- Lack of contingency plans on disaster among partners of Moravian Church makes it difficult and delays response
- Hunger and Poverty has worsened due to the disasters that occurs annually and efforts to stem down poverty and hunger are always being delayed due to this
- It is a practical reality that there will be no yield this year as many crops have been destroyed fearing more serious hunger to already vulnerable people hence the need for mid to long term interventions
- There is huge interest from church partners in the Moravian World family on matters that have serious impact and bearing on human livelihood
- The government and many stakeholders appreciates the involvement of Moravian Church in Matters of social development