Malawi Floods Information and Updates

26 March 2019

We are deeply saddened by developing news about the significant human impact of the current floods in Malawi.

Where to donate

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) launched an appeal on 21st March to help people affected by flooding and Cyclone Idai across the three countries of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with 14 of the UK's leading aid agencies are working together.

Microloan Foundation has an appeal for Malawi.

WaterAid has an appeal for Mozambique and Malawi.

SCIAF has an appeal for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Christian Aid has an appeal for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Tearfund has an appeal for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe to raise money to help distribute food, cooking utensils and shelter, along with seeds to replant crops destroyed by the winds.

Oxfam has an appeal to help reach people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi who are worst affected by Cyclone Idai.

FROM Scotland is fundraising to support their response to the floods in the Chikwawa District of Malawi.

The Dòchas Education Trust is fundraising to distribute aid in the Nsanje District of Malawi. It will be purchased and distributed by their local executive board.

Open Arms Malawi is fundraising for support of families over the next year with whom Open Arms Malawi works.

Zambesi Mission is providing temporary shelters, food, utensils and soap to those in need amongst their partner churches.

The Friends of Malawi Association is continuing its support to community-led and grassroots projects in Malawi through its grants process, and will also consider requests for emergency funding.

The Government of Malawi's Department of Disaster Management Affairs issued this media statement explaining how people can donate directly to the Government of Malawi if they wish. We recognise there will be a range of views within the membership of a direct donation like this to a Government.

Please email David to have your appeal added to this section.

SMP's response

Since the 8th March the SMP has been responding to the floods through:

  1. Coordination and information sharing

Collating information and updates from our members, partners and key stakeholders on the situation on the ground in Malawi and the response to this crisis. Keeping this dedicated webpage updated with key information to help keep our members informed and their efforts coordinated.

  1. Government engagement:

Engaging the Scottish and UK Governments, ensuring officials are briefed and connected, and encouraging swift support for Malawi. We are extremely grateful for the Scottish Government’s responsiveness and strongly support the decision to award £175,000 to support emergency flood relief through the University of Strathclyde on 14th March which was then followed by an additional £150,000 to support relief efforts in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe following Cyclone Idai on 23rd March, through the DEC. Similarly, we are extremely supportive of the UK Government’s £6 million of support for Malawi and Mozambique. We continue to work closely with the Scottish Government, DFID and the FCO.

  1. Parliament engagement:

Through Scottish MPs and MSPs, ensuring the Malawi floods receive serious Parliamentary attention, with strong all-party political support for UK and Scottish assistance for Malawi. We welcome all the First Minister Questions, Parliamentary Questions, Holyrood Motions and Westminster Early Day Motions, and the work of the Malawi Cross Party Group and Malawi All-Party Parliamentary Group, led by Scottish MPs and MSPs, which has ensured Malawi is on the agenda at the most senior levels of Parliamentary and Governmental discussions in London and Edinburgh.

We recognise that, in every instance, the Scottish and UK Government has been quick to respond to each of these Parliamentary questions with strong support for Malawi and Scotland’s links with Malawi, and meaningful action to respond to the floods.

  1. Public awareness

Working with our members and the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to support a coordinated and effective public awareness campaign, across mainstream and social media, engaging Government, civic leaders and other key influencers.

On 1st May, the SMP helped to launch and promote a new six-minute video which outlines Scotland’s response to the devastating 2019 floods. Produced by the University of Strathclyde's Climate Justice Fund, with input from the SMP and our members, the video shows the speed and effectiveness of Scotland’s support.

  1. Fundraising:

Encouraging public giving to support the DEC appeal for Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and the ten separate appeals currently being run by our members (Microloan Foundation, WaterAid, SCIAF, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Oxfam,FROM Scotland, Dòchas Education Trust, Open Arms Malawi and Zambesi Mission). We also raise awareness of the Government of Malawi's own appeal for donations to its Department of Disaster Management Affairs special appeal.

We recognise that the floods will continue to have very significant humanitarian and economic impact in Malawi, long after the flood waters go. We therefore stand ready to continue to support Malawi as it works to recover from this crisis, in the months and years to come, through a sustained commitment to the above five points and anything else the SMP can usefully do to support our friends in Malawi. We will continue to keep this page updated with all relevant news.

Latest updates

On 14th June, Relief Web reported that national food production overall is average to above average and that, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s second round crop estimates, the country will most likely have above average production of key food crops such as cereals and tubers. However, localised production shortfalls is expected in areas hit by heavy rains and flooding, especially in southern Malawi. It also notes that prices for the maize staple continue to be higher than normal due to production shortfalls in southern Malawi.

On 20th May, Relief Web reported that the Malawi Floods Emergency responses entered its second-phase running from April to June,DFID announced it has provided an additional £1.6m million to UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), Concern Worldwide and GOAL to support recovery efforts of families displaced by floods in the southern region.

On 3rd May, The World Bank reported that it had "mobilised over half a billion dollars in new resources to help people in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe affected by the assessed impact of Cyclone Idai."

On 18th April, it was reported that the U.N. refugee agency is helping thousands of people displaced by Cyclone Idai’s floods in Malawi to return home. It was also reported in the media that Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture Authorities this week said that 100,000 households whose crops were washed away will receive free maize seed, potato vines and ground nuts so they can grow food to eat.

On 14th April, a UNICEF report cited more than 443,000 children in Malawi in need of assistance, with these needs remaining “massive” in terms of healthcare, nutrition, education and water assistance.

On 12th April, the DEC in Scotland announced that over £2.5 million in donations has now been raised across Scotland to provide life saving/rebuilding relief for the people of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

On 7th April, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) of Malawi and the United Nations Office of the Resident Coordinator in Malawi, in collaboration with humanitarian and development partners, jointly produced the Malawi: Floods - Situation Report No. 3.

Some key updates:

  • There have been 15 affected districts
  • 868,895 have been affected throughout the country
  • 731,879 people are in need
  • 86,976 people are displaced in IDP camps. This is mainly this because houses collapsed completely or were weakened and therefore remain a potential threat.
  • 90,000 households have been reached with relief assistance by partners providing relief assistance

On 2nd April, Reliefweb reported that an inter-agency Flood Response Coordination Meeting was held in Blantyre, convened by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA). Operations were reported to be predominantly focused across the six districts of Chikwawa, Machinga, Malunje, Nsanje, Phalombe and Zomba. It was noted that coordination and information management capacity are key gaps in the humanitarian response at the district level. Responding organisations are requested to liaise closely with DoDMA and district council officials to optimise operational efficiency and reduce duplication of effort.

On 12th March, the Government of Malawi announced there had been 56 deaths and 577 injuries. 184,589 households (approximately 922,945 people) were affected at that time and 16,545 households (approximately 82, 725 people) have been displaced.

The districts of Machinga, Chikwawa, Zomba, Mulanje, Nsanje, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Phalombe, Blantyre, Neno Mwanza, Dedza, Balaka and Mangochi are currently the worst affected districts we understand.

The Government of Malawi through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) is leading the response, in coordination with the UN.

Inter-agency rapid needs assessments have been carried out, with the report likely to come out early next week. Information is currently being verified as access opens up, so the headline numbers will change.

Priorities are multi-sectoral, across WASH, NFIs, shelter, food security, health and logistics.

Where to find information

We advise members to find the latest information from the below links:

Latest Media Reports

VOA, 18th April - UN Helps Thousands of Displaced Malawi Flood Victims Return Home

Amnesty International, 15th April - Cyclone Idai: One month after devastating cyclone, more international assistance needed to protect people’s rights

Unicef, 14th April - One month on from Cyclone Idai, 1.6 million children still reeling from its impact

The National, 7th April - In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, solidarity become imperative to saving lives

The Press & Journal, 4th April - Your chance to help Cyclone Idai victims

Express, 1st April - Cyclone Idai's forgotten victims: UK-based charity rescues TERRIFIED animals

The Herald, 31st March - Scots raise nearly £2m for Cyclone Idai appeal

The Herald, 27th March - Outlander star McTavish makes emotional appeal for Scots to help victims of Cyclone Idai

Border Telegraph, 28th April - Appeal to help twinned community in Malawi

Relief Web, 25th March: Oxfam distributing emergency aid to Cyclone Idai survivors in Malawi and Mozambique

The Press and Journal, 25th March: VIDEO: North-east residents asked to dig deep for cyclone appeal

Relief Web, 25th March: Government commends partners for assistance to those affected by floods

The Herald, 24th March: David Pratt: In the eye of the storm

The National, 24th March: Cyclone Idai: Here's what it's like in the disaster zone – and how you can help

The Scotsman, 23rd March: Scottish Government announces aid to support Cyclone Idai victims

The Press and Journal, 23rd March: Aberdeen aid worker talks of cyclone devastation in West Africa

The Press and Journal, 23rd March: Malawi cyclone: Department head speaks

The Herald, 22nd March: Lord McConnell: Speed and quality of aid response will be vital in wake of Cyclone Idai

The Herald, 22nd March: Cyclone Idai: Fears death toll could exceed 1000

BBC News, 21st March: Cyclone Idai: How the storm tore into southern Africa

Aljazeera, 20th March: 'Major humanitarian' crisis after cyclone slams southern Africa. A UN statement that 2.6 million people are affected across the area with 920k people affected in Malawi, according to the UN World Food Programme.

The Independent, 20th March: Cyclone Idai: ‘Death all over’ as floods wipe out ‘evidence houses were ever here. Quotes UN officials in Malawi saying that in some areas, all sign of human habitation has been washed away.

BBC News, 20th March: Cyclone Idai: 'Massive disaster' in Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Channel 4, 19th March: 1,000 may be dead after Cyclone Idai hits southern Africa, says Mozambique President. In its reports on the severe impact of Cyclone Idai on Mozambique, Channel 4 news reports the death toll in Malawi to have risen to 122 people:

Relief Web, 18th March: Almost half a million women and girls affected by floods in Malawi. The article says that the UN Population Fund (UNPFA) Malawi has prepositioned reproductive health kits and other supplies to support the women and girls affected by the floods.”

First Minister Statement

In reply to a powerful question from Malawi CPG member Maureen Watt MSP, in First Minister’s Questions on 14th March, the First Minister made the following statement which you can watch by clicking on the link.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I thank Maureen Watt for raising the issue. My condolences go to all those who have been affected by the disaster in Malawi. Our thoughts are with the people of Malawi at what is an incredibly difficult time for them.

“I am pleased to tell the chamber that we have just announced the provision of £175,000 to support efforts to ensure safe water supplies in southern Malawi. Funding will be provided through the climate justice fund and will be delivered by our hydro nation partners, who are already working on the ground in southern Malawi to secure water resources that have been affected by the floods. Scottish Government officials will also work closely with partners on the ground to support the relief efforts.

“As Maureen Watt indicated, Scotland has a historic relationship with Malawi that goes back 150 years. The people of Malawi are our friends. We do a great deal of work in and for Malawi, from which we ourselves benefit. We stand with the people of Malawi at this difficult time, and we will do everything possible to help.”

Scottish Government response

The Scottish Government has been quick to respond to the floods, awarding £175,000 to support emergency flood relief in Malawi on 14th March.

The funds are delivering critical work to secure water supplies and treat contamination in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:

“First and foremost, I know the people of Scotland will join the Scottish Government in sending our thoughts and prayers to the growing number of people in southern Malawi whose lives have been affected by this devastating flooding – particularly those who have, tragically, lost a family member.

“We have close links with the people of Malawi and, since news of the flooding broke, we have been in contact with International Development and Climate Justice Fund partners on the ground to identify how the Scottish Government can best support emergency relief efforts.

“The funding we have announced today will go to the heart of addressing the urgent issues being faced. It will enable our HydroNation programme experts, who are in the region right now co-ordinating relief efforts, to continue to deliver emergency action targeting the most at-risk water supplies.

“As climate change will cause weather events like this to become more frequent, it is critical that we continue to offer support to the international communities which are often the first to be affected.”

International Development Minister Ben Macpherson said:

“Scotland is an outward-looking, compassionate nation and it is right that we support families and communities affected by these devastating floods in Malawi.

“This cross-Government funding will complement our support for established programmes in the affected districts, while also providing emergency relief.

“We will continue to monitor the status of our projects and partners in the regions badly-affected by the flooding, to address the immediate situation and also build resilience for the future.

“Scotland’s links with Malawi are incredibly strong and our thoughts are with all of Malawi at this difficult time.”

On 23rd March, Ben Macpherson MSP announced that the Scottish Government would provide £150,000 to the DEC appeal. Around £100,000 of funding is to come from the international development budget, with £50,000 allocated from the Climate Justice Fund to support emergency flood relief in Malawi in securing water supplies and treating contamination.

UK Government response

On 20th March, Patrick Grady, MP for Glasgow North and Chair of the Malawi All Party Parliamentary Group, asked the Minister of State for Africa, Rt Hon Harriett Baldwin MP, about resilience and preparedness for future crises. The Minister replied, praising Scotland’s links with Malawi and highlighting the importance of long-term good security.

On 21st March, the UK Government announced that the UK is providing £3.4 million to provide immediate life-saving aid to victims of recent floods in Malawi. This brings the total UK aid for survivors of Cyclone Idai to £12 million.

UK aid, provided by the UK's Department for International Development, will provide emergency shelter, food, clean water and sanitation facilities, and health support. DFID support responding to this crisis is in addition to existing large scale resilience-building programming which is providing cash transfers so that 140,000 people can feed themselves until the end of March. The UK is channelling support through the World Food Programme, UNICEF and the Red Cross, targeting the most affected areas of Phalombe, Nsanje and Chikwawa. UK aid will:

  • Provide 65,000 people with emergency shelter, and support camps hosting people displaced from their homes; support 150,000 people with immediate food assistance for two months; provide 250,000 people with water, sanitation and hygiene support; and help 130,000 people across health services.

  • DFID is the biggest donor to the START fund, which has allocated over £400,000 to enable an NGO consortium headed by Trocaire and HelpAge International to meet immediate needs, such as clean water and shelter in Malawi.

DFID Malawi Head of Office, David Beer, said:

"The floods and devastation linked to the recent Cyclone Idai weather system have had a shocking impact on the region, including on southern Malawi. The UK is absolutely committed to supporting Malawians who have been affected. The £3.4 million of funding for immediate food, shelter, health and water and sanitation needs will help Malawians deal with the immediate impact."

On 18th March the UK Government announced that DFID will provide up to £6 million of UK aid to send humanitarian relief to people in Mozambique and Malawi affected by Cyclone Idai.

UK International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

"I have made £6 million of UK aid available to help meet the immediate needs of people who have lost everything. We have deployed a UK team of DFID experts who are now on the ground in Mozambique helping to co-ordinate the UK’s response to this disaster, and we hope to have vital UK aid supplies in the region shortly. We stand ready to scale up our support if needed.

"The images of loss and devastation following this deadly cyclone and extreme weather are shocking. The people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe should know that they are firmly in our thoughts at this difficult time, and that the UK stands by their side."

Cross Party Support

A Motion in the Scottish Parliament (S5M-16375) was lodged by Liam McArthur MSP on 14th March, to show cross party support for Malawi. The Motion states:

“That the Parliament recognises the devastating human impact that widespread floods are having in Malawi; acknowledges that latest figures suggest some 56 people have so far died in southern Malawi, with 577 injured, 83,000 displaced and almost half a million affected; notes that many friends and partners of Scotland have been caught up in this disaster, and that numerous Scotland-Malawi links are urgently working to respond to this crisis; welcomes the Scottish Government’s lifesaving additional allocation of £175,000 to support secure water supplies and treat contamination in the immediate aftermath of the disaster; recognises the coordination and support being offered by the Scotland Malawi Partnership; understands that, sadly, tropical cyclone Idai will bring further heavy rain and flooding in the coming days; recognises that civic links with Malawi are active in every Scottish constituency, and considers that Scotland should continue to provide support and assistance to its close friends in Africa at this difficult time.”

The motion has received strong cross party support with MSPs from every political party in Holyrood signing.

Also on 14th March, Maureen Watt MSP, Malawi Cross Party Group member, asked about Scotland’s response in First Minister’s Questions and received a strong message of support from the First Minister.

On 19th March, Patrick Grady, MP for Glasgow North and Chair of the Malawi All-Party Parliamentary Group, asked the UK Government about its response to the crises.

On 20th March Patrick Grady MP asked Rt Hon Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister of State for Africa, about the UK Government's response to the flood and future preparedness.

Minister Baldwin replied:

"This allows me to pay tribute to the Scotland-Malawi partnership, demonstrated by the statistic that 43% of people in Scotland know someone who is, or are themselves, part of links between Scotland and Malawi. I know that civil society across Scotland will be engaging both with these local partnerships but also more widely through the appeal. I thank everyone in Scotland for their generosity towards this cause.

"The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about the work that we will be doing on resilience, which is also for the United Nations. Resilience takes many forms, but one of the most important is the crops that are sown, the ways in which they are sown and the way that the land is used. That is an important part of the work that we are doing—helping farmers to make use of the land in a way that gives them the best resilience to these kinds of climate shocks."

On 22nd March, Patrick Grady MP tabled a Motion mirroring the Scottish Parliament motion, which has received strong cross party support, especially from Scottish MPs.

On 21st March, Kezia Dugdale asked four Parliamentary Questions about the floods:

On 2nd April, Minister Ben Macpherson MSP responded to each of these four questions, extending strong continued support from the Scottish Government for short and long term assistance to Malawi in response to the floods.

On 1st May, the Malawi Cross Party Group’s meeting will include an update from Prof Bob Kalin, briefing Parliament on the Scottish Government funded response to the floods undertaken by the University of Strathclyde.

On 4th September, the Malawi Cross Party Group’s meeting will look specifically at the longer term impact of the floods, with updates from all key NGOs and a number of stakeholder video case studies from the ground in Malawi. The meeting will discuss how Scotland can continue to offer meaningful support.

Malawian Government response

7th April: Malawi: Floods - Situation Report No. 3.

2nd April: Malawi Government Appeals for Aid for Cyclone Floods Victims

8th March: Government of Malawi Press Release: Expression of Gratitude and Appeal for More Assistance here.

Useful documents we have been sent

May: FROM Scotland has provided this useful update on how the money raised during the flood appeal has been used with details on how it has been distributed and their focus on continued support.

The Climate Justice Fund Water Futures Programme has been working with available satellite data to estimate the number of water points that might have been impacted by flood waters. From the existing data, there are around 1860 that are 'At Risk' from flood waters, especially those which may have impacted pit latrines. This does not mean these have any demonstrated contamination issue, but it does indicate the magnitude of resources that could be considered for either chlorination or supply of water purification tablets at point of use to reduce the risk in the short term and to inform any relief efforts. Please note,this is not a complete and exhaustive study and is only based on the available information to hand. Photo credit: Scottish Gov't Climate Justice Fund Water Futures Programme at the University of Strathclyde.

Impact on members’ work

A large number of members have contacted us with information and updates about the impact on their partners. Please to continue to email David with updates, as this helps give us an overall picture of priorities on the ground.

For example:

  • 1st April: Climate Challenge Programme Malawi (CCPM) has done an initial survey among communities participating in the CCPM, with initial figures suggesting 5,000 families have been affected by the disaster in Chikwawa alone, with many homes have been damaged and crops destroyed. Communities in Balaka and Zomba have also experienced heavy and continuous rain, which has caused water logging in farms and severe damage to crops. In Chikwawa, the CCPM is responding through their partner CICOD. Following an assessment of the floods, which damaged wells, sanitation facilities, houses, livestock, and other property, CICOD provided chlorine water treatment packs to 681 households in Ngowe, Chikwawa. The activity was coordinated and conducted jointly with Ngabu Hospital officials. This work will reduce the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases.
  • 29th March: WaterAid has received confirmation that the boreholes and sanitation infrastructure under construction in Zomba have not been destroyed and their work in Machinga District has not been impacted. However, households and Early Childhood Development Centres have been affected in an area in which WaterAid is working and homes in their planned area of work have been lost, and some of the childhood development centres’ infrastructure destroyed. People in these areas are currently living in temporary camps.

  • 11th March: A member has told us that their partners in Nsanje District are very badly affected, as the Shire River has flooded that whole plain. The government estimate that roughly 40,000+ people are displaced. The bridge at Chikwawa is under several feet of water. Many are waiting to see how badly damaged it is as it is the only available road from Blantyre to the south (grandly known as the M1)

  • 12th March: Another has told us that Primary Schools in the Lifuni Ward of Zomba District are being used to house evacuees.

  • Another member, also a partner in Zomba (20 minutes drive outside of Zomba, off the Mpondabwino-Ulumba Road, Mandala Village), tells us (8th March) that this community has been seriously affected, with the main issues being homes and crops being destroyed, and multiple families are living in the offices. They also have no electricity as the power lines are down, making organising relief more difficult. They have said the most urgent demands are for food aid, tents, bedding and for fast-growing crops.

  • 9th March: Open Arms Malawi released a statement in which they note Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts remain inaccessible from Blantyre… The floods have already caused loss of life, have badly damaged infrastructure including roads and hydro-electricity power generation. What looked like a promising harvest (Mar-Apr) will now need to be re-assessed after the inevitable crop damage. The effects of these floods will be felt now, for the remainder or 2019 and into 2020.

Please email David if you have information which you feel it would be helpful to share on this page.

Photo credit: Amaru Photography/ Malumbo Simwaka

Support from Edinburgh's Lord Provost

Frank Ross, Edinburgh's Right Honourable Lord Lieutenant and Lord Provost, praises the efforts of those who have supported the relief work following the recent floods in Malawi and encourages people to look ahead to the support needed in the coming weeks and months.

We are renewing our appeal for the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, overwhelmed by #CycloneIdai. Huge thanks to @grahammctavish #outlander for bringing home what it might be like to survive and recover from a disaster on this scale. Please take a look, donate, share

— DEC in Scotland (@DECScotland) March 25, 2019
DEC Appeal