accessibility & help

Flooding leaves thousands homeless in Southern Africa

4 March 2015

When severe rains brought unusually high flooding to southern Malawi, hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless, forced to crowd together in tents and temporary camps.

The British Red Cross has pledged more than £100,000 to help people affected by unprecedented flooding in Malawi. 

At least 230,000 people have been made homeless following two months of heavy rains in the south of the country.  

Crops have been destroyed and there are growing concerns about waterborne diseases such as cholera. 

Our pledge of £117,000 pledge will help towards the relief effort in Malawi by providing emergency items such as tarpaulins and mosquito nets. 

Flooding facts

Flooding has affected a number of countries in the region. Malawi has borne the brunt of the flooding, as these stats indicate:  

  • More than 100 people have been killed and 645 people have been injured
  • Crops and 64,000 hectares of land have been destroyed – an area greater than the size of Manchester 
  • 275,000 people are in need of food
  • There have been 34 cases of cholera and two fatalities, as of the end of February 
  • 415 schools have been damaged or left inaccessible 

With thousands of homes destroyed by flood waters, families are seeking shelter in makeshift camps. 

The conditions are cramped and unsanitary with up to 100 people living in tents designed for 20 people. 

The Red Cross has been distributing tarpaulins, blankets, cooking equipment, mosquito nets and food, but these stocks will soon begin to run out.   

Some 250 Red Cross volunteers are also being trained in epidemic control to prevent outbreaks of diseases.  

‘The water has taken everything’ 

“I was up to my neck in water,” said 54-year-old Eliza Kambewa. Together with her husband and five children, Eliza fled to a nearby church when flood waters hit their home in Zomba, southern Malawi.

“The water has taken everything from us. Our crops are gone. Our goats and chickens the same,” she said.

Mozambique, Madagascar and Zimbabwe have also been hit by abnormally high rainfall. 

Some 123,000 people have been affected in Mozambique, while 120,000 and 6,000 people have been affected in Madagascar and Zimbabwe respectively.

Crops, which were due to be harvested in April, are now under water. This will exacerbate a chronic food shortage across the region, which has suffered from low crop yields over the last couple of years. 

Ensuring that the most vulnerable people receive adequate amounts of nutritious food will be a challenge. 

Jane Adisu, British Red Cross head of region, said: “It is the rainy season at the moment, but the amount of rain that has hit the region is extraordinary. 

“Our big fear is that water sources will be contaminated and that will give rise to diarrhoeal diseases and cholera. 

“Crops have been wiped out and it will take a long time for the land to recover, so this is just the beginning of the crisis.” 

  • The British Red Cross pledge was drawn from our Disaster Fund, which enables us to respond immediately to an emergency. We rely on donations from people like you to give help where it’s needed most. Please support our work by making a donation today. 

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