Gift of the givers aid Malawi flood victims

2015-01-17 14:28
Malawians displaced by the torrential rains and floods of the last few days take shelter in tents in the Milima area of Chikhwawa. (Bonex Julius, AFP)

Malawians displaced by the torrential rains and floods of the last few days take shelter in tents in the Milima area of Chikhwawa. (Bonex Julius, AFP)

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Johannesburg - South African aid group Gift of the Givers has distributed numerous relief parcels to families in Malawi that were displaced by floods.

The parcels contained staple food, blankets, eating utensils, water purification tablets and plastic sheets, the organisation's founder Imtiaz Sooliman said on Saturday.

The parcels, worth R500 each, were distributed since on Friday.

German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that floods have killed at least 170 people in Malawi over the past week.

Officials said the death toll had earlier been given as 48. It rose after villagers in the southern district of Nsanje were swept away by swelling rivers.

The floods have left an estimated 100 000 people homeless in the southern African country.

President Peter Mutharika visited victims in central and southern Malawi on Friday and called for international assistance.

"Malawi alone cannot cope with the disaster," Mutharika was quoted as saying.

Meteorologists warned that rains could continue for days.

4 000 people

Sooliman said an eight-member team from his organisation had left for the south to reach areas more than 100km away from Blantyre.

The distribution of aid parcels will take place in Chikwana, Nsanje, Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka, Zomba, Phalombe and Mulanje.

Sooliman said Malawi was probably facing the "greatest flood disaster in the history of its existence".

He said continuous rain and Cyclone Bansi had resulted in Mutharika declaring 15 of the 28 national districts disaster zones.

"The Malawi defence force has already rescued more than 4 000 people with the fear that many more are trapped in inaccessible areas," said Sooliman.

Massive destruction to agriculture, roads, bridges and infrastructure including power facilities has complicated the situation due to prolonged power outages, said Sooliman.

There were also concerns of a cholera outbreak and other water-borne diseases as there was no clean drinking water, and the sewerage was contaminated.

Sooliman said tropical Cyclone Chedza was also expected to hit Malawi on Sunday.

"It is is expected to be far more destructive than Cyclone Bansi bringing more heavy rains and greater flooding," said Sooliman.

"Gift of the Givers has put water rescue teams from South Africa on standby for this eventuality. Medical teams are also ready if required."

Sooliman called on South Africans to contribute to the relief effort.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  malawi  |  floods

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