The waters have flooded thousands of hectares of farmland and have thus destroyed the people’s food supply. Photo: humedica
humedica coordinator Heinz Horsch about emergency help in Malawi
The heavy floods in Malawi at the beginning of this year needed quick action and directed help. humedica has reacted immediately and, with Heinz Horsch, has sent an internationally experienced first field staff member into the catastrophe region.
In the concerned district Zomba he has coordinated the distribution of urgently needed aid supplies to about 6,000 families, for three weeks. His review shows us, which questions this work brings about and what he still remembers after his return to Germany:
A signal of hope
“Are the people off badly because their houses have caved in or have the houses caved in because the people were off badly?” This was the question, the German ambassador asked me, when we had accepted his friendly invitation to his office in the Malawian capital Lilongwe.
A question which still bothers me: If the Malawian houses had been built according to the rules of the German building regulations, probably not one of them would have caved in. But seeing the acute distress of the people in the south of Malawi, there is only little time for philosophic thoughts. Crisis situations are not convenient for mind games about development aid policy.
The humanitarian catastrophe which has happened here in southern Africa wasn’t worth a headline in our media. The precipitation amount during the rain period had largely exceeded the usual amount, so that the river Shire had burst its banks and had changed the small streams which flow into the lake Chilwa into torrents. One of these influents has changed its course completely because of the floods, which has caused the farmers to be cut off their fields now.
The United Nations estimate that 100 people have died in the floods, 200 more are going missing, 230,000 became homeless and 50,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed. Luckily, the German Office of Foreign Affairs has reacted quickly and has met the urgently needed money for the help to the concerned people at humedica’s disposition.
Only four days after humedica had asked me if I would take over the coordination of the help measures, I arrived in the south Malawian town Zomba. There, I realized the help together with our local partner Emmanuel International Malawi (EIM).
Our first tour into the catastrophe region confirmed my fears and those of my colleague Edgar of EIM: The poorest people had been hit most. Their houses, built of sundried mud bricks, had been soaked by the daylong heavy rains and had caved in. Thousands of people were looking for shelter in schools, churches or old factory buildings.
In order to be able to provide fast help and to supply to the most urgent needs of the people, we decided to buy and distribute mosquito nets, blankets and housewares. Thus, the EIM collaborators drove their trucks on muddy roads every day, in order to distribute the goods to the concerned people out there.
Because of the continuing floods, many people had to walk for several hours, to reach the places where the aid supplies were distributed.
The ambassador’s question cited here above however remains unanswered. Given the big distress this flood has caused, the help provided never seems to be enough. And yet, for the beneficiaries of our help, it is a clear sign which shows the way out of their desperation towards new hope.
I am thinking about the woman, who showed me her arm bestrewn with mosquito bites and who thankfully received the protecting net. Or the young mother with her baby of only some days or the old man, who I could communicate, despite the different languages, that people in a country far away were paying regard also to his distress.”
The humedica help in Malawi is still going on. After the distribution of aid supplies, the concerned people are now getting new plant seedlings, in order to be able to farm their fields destroyed by the floods and herewith, to assure their supply of food.
Please support the humedica emergency measures with a precious donation and offer the people in Malawi a bit of new hope after the catastrophe. Thank you very much!
humedica e. V.
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