Lilongwe, 11 March 2019 – UNICEF has stepped in to support thousands of families affected by floods in the southern region of Malawi. Preliminary estimates from the Department of Disaster Management and Preparedness (DoDMA) indicate that 93,730 families have been affected with 6,341 families displaced and seeking shelter, mostly in schools, churches and health centres.
DODMA also states that 30 people have been confirmed dead and 377 injured as of 11 March 2019. With thousands forced out their flooded homes, many families lack basic supplies including food, water and sanitation facilities. The floods have also disrupted learning for thousands of children.
“In an emergency such as this, children suffer the heaviest impact and are at increased risk of malnutrition and disease.” says Michele Paba, UNICEF Malawi Acting Deputy Representative.
“We are therefore providing water treatment supplies, cholera medicines and supplies, soap, buckets, and temporary latrines to be installed in the schools, churches and health centers where displaced families are being sheltered. We will be screening children for malnutrition and providing the necessary treatment,” adds Michele.
UNICEF is also working with partners to ensure that primary and secondary school classes resume as soon as possible for affected children, so that their education is not disrupted. UNICEF will provide tents and school supplies to schools and temporary learning centres and will deploy additional volunteer teachers.
With over 6,000 families displaced, there are also child protection risks. “UNICEF is concerned about increasing vulnerability of violence against children and women, and the psychological well-being of children due to the disaster,” Michele Paba continued. “Social welfare teams and community police need to be present at evacuation sites to provide direct support.”
UNICEF is also supporting DoDMA to assess the situation using drones. Drone acquired photos and videos of the affected area are being used to assess flood damage to buildings and fields, and to help plan the humanitarian response.
UNICEF has a long history of working in emergencies and humanitarian situations. In the current response, UNICEF is collaborating with the Government, NGOs and other UN agencies to ensure comprehensive and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance.
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