Women & Girls

Malawi Experiencing Unprecedented Floods

A photograph of the author, Peyton Olsen.

By Peyton Olsen

January 22, 2015

Malawi Experiencing Unprecedented Floods
Children stand near damaged house in Malawi
Malawi is experiencing unprecedented flooding. Image by Thoko Chikondi from the BBC.

Heifer teams across the Southern and Central regions of Malawi are assessing the damage left in the wake of flooding that has displaced 121,000 people across the east African country.

Heifer Malawi Country Director Petronella Halwiindi said three Heifer projects have been impacted by the floods: Matapwata Dairy Improvement Project in the Thyolo District, which assists 1,000 dairy farmers, the Malawi Smallholder Dairy Development Project and the Central Dairy Scale-up Project. Heifer Malawi staff are in close contact with community leaders, Milk Bulking Groups (MBG) and farmers’ families to monitor the situation.

“The Southern Region [has been] the most hit, and we anticipate greater impact on the Matapwata project as compared to those in the Central Region,” Halwiindi said. “We [have] yet to ascertain the actual depth and breadth of the impact on our beneficiaries. Fortunately, we have not yet reported any livestock losses in the [Matapwata Dairy and Central Dairy Scale-up] projects.”

All central milk cooling/collection centers have reported loss of milk due to power outages caused by the heavy rains. Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika declared a state of emergency in 16 of the country's 28 districts. He has asked for humanitarian support from the international and donor community.

“The President's office has requested International Non-governmental Organizations (INGO) to give details of their assessments and efforts in mitigating the disaster,” Halwindi said.

Halwiindi said the INGO forum will meet Jan. 25 to discuss aid coordination in an effort maximize its effectiveness.

Help our farmers recover from the flooding. 

The flooding, caused by two weeks of heavy rain, has hit the southern districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe, Zomba and Blantyre the hardest, damaging homes, livestock and properties. Nearly 180 people have died, even more are missing and and 116,000 households (638,000 people) have lost their crops. Malawi’s Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Service has issued heavy rainfall and flashflood warnings that will continue for the next two to three weeks throughout the country.

While we are not a relief organization, we have a responsibility to our families to get them back on their feet and ready to rebuild for the long term. You can help by donating to our Disaster Rehabilitation Fund.

Additional reporting by Mwai Chitete, Heifer Malawi PM&E Manager, and Petronella Halwiindi, Heifer Malawi Country Director