With more heavy rains forecast for Malawi, UN highlights need for donors to fulfil aid pledges

WFP airlifting high-energy biscuits to families cut off by the Malawi floods. Photo: WFP

WFP airlifting high-energy biscuits to families cut off by the Malawi floods. Photo: WFP

Geneva, 3 February 2015 – Saturated soils in Malawi are expected to get more rain in the coming days as heavy downpours are aid in the region’s forecast, a spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) told journalists during a briefing in Geneva today.

The situation in flood-hit areas is expected to get worse said Elisabeth Byrs, adding that the agency has continued scaling-up assistance as it tries to reach 370,000 people affected by floods.

A total of 1,530 metric tonnes of food is in position to reach approximately 230,000 people in seven districts but more would be positioned to reach other flood-affected areas.

“The flood-affected areas are still cut off from markets and other food supplies,” Ms. Byrs said, adding that crops are suffering greatly. “Damage to crops is expected to have long-term consequences on food security.”

Ms. Byrs described the challenges associated with reaching the worst-hit areas, particularly damage and destruction of roads and bridges, and she added that a WFP helicopter had been deployed in the country on 23 January to support delivery of food and other humanitarian relief cargo to areas that remain inaccessible.

She said she hopes the agency would take delivery of another helicopter, some four-wheel drive vehicles and boats, but that depends upon contributions received in support of logistics efforts. Ms. Byrs underlined the need for States to honour their pledged donations, stressing that without money, WFP will be unable to purchase food assistance or anything else.

So far, $10.2 million worth of pledges has been received but an urgent requirement remains for $17.5 million to purchase approximately 26,000 metric tonnes of various commodities and to augment its logistics operation.

“There are concerns about sanitation and hygiene risks in the camps,” Ms. Byrs noted. “There have been reported cases of scabies among flood-affected populations, along with increased cases of malaria and diarrhoea. Cases of malnutrition have also been seen in camps and are expected to rise steadily.”