Met predicts floods this week

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (Met) says some cities and flood-prone areas along the lakeshore will experience floods this week.

In a weekly weather update released on Sunday, the director of climate change and meteorological services Jolamu Nkhokwe, the floods will result from heavy rains that are expected to continue this week.

A flooded residential area in Lilongwe

“The country will continue to experience heavy rains due to storming of Congo airflow enhanced by heating during sunny intervals, and lifting of airflow over high ground.

“The downpour will likely worsen chances of flooding in flood prone areas particularly in cities and along the lakeshore areas due to siltation and poor drainage system,” reads the statement in part.

Nkhokwe said in an interview that the impact of the floods will depend on a number of factors.

He said: “The impact of the [floods] will depend on a number of factors such as the quality of structures, intensity of rains and runoffs, quality of drainage systems and how populated areas are.” 

Meanwhile, Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula has said the department prioritised preparations to reduce disaster risks both in the short and long-term.

He said: “We have standby search and rescue personnel and equipment. We have also built evacuation centres in flood prone districts of Mangochi, Nsanje, Salima, Karonga and Chikwawa and people severely affected by flooding or any other hazard will be seeking refuge at these centres.”

Khamula said the flood mitigating structure in flood-prone areas are being constructed under the Small Grants Scheme, with support from UNDP and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

“For instance, we have built check dams in Mangochi and installed gabion baskets and built a dyke along the ever swelling Mwanza River in Chikwawa District,” he said.

Khamula said his department, together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Malawi Institute of Education, has also developed a primary school resource book for disaster risk management.

He said since the onset of 2018/19 rain season, disasters such as rainstorms, floods and strong winds have killed 21 people, 12 of which were due to lightning, while 38 people have been injured in disasters that have hit 24 districts and affected 119 064 people in 21 648 households.

Khamula said as of January 13, Southern Region is the worst affected, followed by the Centre and North with 12, eight and four affected districts, respectively..

The department is responding to the affected families with food and non-food relief items such as a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag of maize or rice, 10 metres of plastic sheet for temporary roofing, two blankets, a 20 litre plastic bucket, five plastic cups, four plastic plates, 4kg beans and 1kg salt per household.

Some of the affected districts are Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Dowa, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Thyolo, Nsanje, Mulanje, Mwanza, Phalombe and Mzimba.

Last Friday, councillors in Mzimba asked Dodma to speed up distribution of relief food to vulnerable households, saying they were starving. According to the 2018 Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac) report, about 29 411 households need relief food in Mzimba, translating to 147 057 people.

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