UNICEF Scales up Support to Malawi’s Flood Victims as Rains Persist

UNICEF is working with its partners to scale up emergency assistance to more than 53,000 people hit by floods in Malawi as heavy rains continue. As persistent rains have destroyed roads, access to flooded areas remains difficult. The flooding has also restricted access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the affected communities. In response, UNICEF is providing a range of water, sanitation and hygiene-related supplies. The organization is also disseminating information to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

NEW YORK (February 1, 2013) – UNICEF is working with its partners to scale up emergency assistance to more than 53,000 people hit by floods in Malawi’s southern region as heavy rains continue.

An inter-agency assessment has revealed widespread flooding in Mangochi, Phalombe and Nsanje districts, affecting an estimated 53,460 people, destroying crops, and causing disruption to learning in 21 schools. The floods have displaced 33,725 people, leaving most without shelter, clothing and blankets.

“Communities, the government, NGOs and the UN 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,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF Country Representative in Malawi.

As persistent rains have destroyed roads, access to flooded areas remains difficult. Food, emergency shelter, medical supplies and other household such as blankets, buckets and pots are urgently needed.

The flooding has also restricted access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the affected communities; water sources have been submerged, while most latrines have collapsed. In response, UNICEF is providing a range of water, sanitation and hygiene-related supplies, including chlorine for disinfecting, water purification chemicals, plastic sheeting for construction of temporary bath and latrine shelters, and soap. The organization is also disseminating hygiene promotion information to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera.

In addition, a total of 21 schools have been affected by the floods. In the past two weeks, many displaced families have sought shelter in schools, using them as kitchens and bedrooms. In some schools, furniture has been partially damaged or completely destroyed. Now that children and teachers are beginning to go back to school, UNICEF has provided School-in-a-Box supplies to ensure that quality learning resumes in the affected primary schools.

“Vital supplies are getting through to stricken communities, but UNICEF remains vigilant, monitoring childhood diseases, ensuring schools are functional and that children go back to learning,” said Mdoe.

Floods are a recurring challenge in Malawi, where thousands of people are temporarily displaced and lose household items or field crops on a nearly yearly basis.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, smasur@unicefusa.org
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2634, kschoop@unicefusa.org