Blantyre — The Republic of South Africa has sent a delegation from its National Disaster Management Centre to assess damage caused by the recent floods in the country.
The seven-member strong delegation comprising specialists in communicable diseases, forensic pathology assessment, general medical as well as search and rescue, arrived in the country on Wednesday.
After arrival, they held a meeting with officials from Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) at Mount Soche in Blantyre.
A member of the delegation, Thulani Nzuza said South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa sent them to assess the situation in order to ascertain the kind of response they can provide after President Arthur Peter Mutharika declared a national disaster due to the floods.
"The president has sent us to assess the state of disaster in regards to what has happened; who are the affected and what the South African Government can do to support President Mutharika in terms of dealing and managing the disaster.
"During a briefing by DoDMA, we have been taken through what has transpired to date and disaster management coordination processes and the structures in place and the pressure points in terms of area and communities that have been heavily affected," said Nzuza.
Nzuza said after the assessment, the team will craft and propose some interventions where they have identified gaps as well as where the country has indicated the need for certain things.
"We will submit a report to our country on our findings in the assessment and what it is we think is immediate that we must support the country with.
"We really appreciate the efforts made by the President of Malawi, the swift action in attending to the immediate situation of floods and also activating the contingency plan that the country has in terms of how they intend to deal with the flood disaster," said Nzuza.
He said South Africa is ready to support Malawi, saying they have big teams of various specialities that can be deployed but the country will be informed what the needs are in the current situation.
DoDMA Principal Secretary and Commissioner for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, Wilson Mollen, said after the meeting, the delegation would travel to some of the affected areas to appreciate the damage.
"Following the declaration of the national disaster by the president on the 8th of March and the subsequent appeal for support from partners and international community, South Africa has responded and has sent an assessment team who want to appreciate the extent of damage, what sort of assistance they can bring in the immediate term, medium term and in the long term.
"So, what we have been discussing are those finer details and then they will respond to our needs based on this assessment," said Mollen.
Meanwhile, DoDMA has appealed to people living in low lying areas to move to higher ground amid a warning about Tropical Cyclone IDAI by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS)
"We are calling upon people who live-in low-lying areas, most especially in the Lower Shire to move to higher ground. We did appeal to people in the Makhanga area in the East Bank to move but we received some resistance.
"But with this cyclone coming, we have reached a point where they must move to prevent deaths that could occur as a result of people staying in low lying areas," said Mollen.
He said it might be difficult to save people if the cyclone occurs as the weather experts are projecting.
"Right now, we are requesting the District Commissioners to continue engaging with the chiefs to advise the people to move to high ground," he added.
Recent updates from DoDMA indicate that as of Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 56 deaths and 577 injuries were recorded with three people reported missing.
A total of 184,589 households (approximately 922,945 people) have been affected and 16,545 households (approximately 82, 725 people) have been displaced, according to DoDMA.