Concern responds to new devastating COVID-19 wave in Malawi
Ireland’s largest aid organisation is responding to a devastating new rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Malawi where there is a critical shortage of medical oxygen.
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Concern Worldwide is appealing for public donations as its staff in Malawi face a race against the clock to help thousands of people in dire need following severe flooding.
“People here are desperate, they have lost everything they have and it is very, very difficult for them to survive,” Concern’s Country Director in Malawi, Yousaf Jogezai said today. “They have had just so many shocks, with last year’s drought, flooding last January and now this latest flood, they have lost everything. In many cases their houses have been washed away or they have collapsed, their livestock is gone and this year’s harvest had been destroyed.”
Over 800,000 people have been affected by the flooding in the wake of Cyclone Idai in Malawi, with 87,000 displaced, 59 dead and 672 injured.
The districts of Nsanje and Phalombe in southern Malawi (where Concern has been working for a number of years) are among the worst areas affected by flooding. Parts of eastern Nsanje are still cut off by floods and are only accessible by boat or helicopter.
“We immediately need relief support and shortly after that we will need agricultural support to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Mr Jogezai said.
Concern’s staff on the ground are facing a race against the clock. The immediate issue is the risk of water-borne disease such as Cholera and diarrhoea in the 173 temporary camps which are accommodating people displaced by flooding, Mr Jogezai explained. “Many people are sheltering in local schools and churches, which do not have sufficient toilets or bathing facilities for the numbers staying there,” he said. “This is a very dangerous situation. We need to move quickly to help.”
Concern is working with staff in the camps to construct latrines and bathrooms and to provide safe water supplies. This week it will commence distributing emergency kits containing essential items such as plastic sheeting, cooking utensils, mosquito nets and soap to those who are displaced. Concern is aiming to provide relief support to 45,000 people in the coming days and weeks.
With rain continuing to fall, the flood waters are only subsiding slowly. However, once they decline sufficiently to allow people return home, they will have a short time period to plant a ‘winter’ crop. “If they do not plant by March/April (for a crop which will be ready in June/July) they will have to wait until September/October to plant the summer crops which will not be ready to harvest until this time next year,” Mr Jogezai.
As part of the second phase of its response to the floods, Concern will provide people with tools and seeds, along with cash transfers to assist people restore their homes and non-agriculture livelihoods. It is aiming to assist 90,000 people with these supports.
“Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with very little capacity to respond to a natural disaster of this scale,” Concern World Chief Executive Dominic MacSorley said. “Concern’s team on the ground in Malawi are responding but support from the public and the international community is desperately needed to raise €5 million to fund this work.”
Mr MacSorley urged the public to donate to Concern’s Malawi flood appeal by visiting www.concern.net.
For more information contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, at 087 9880524.