Setting off on the road to recovery


SIM Malawi/EAM flood-relief work is supported by

SIM Malawi Project #MW96759 Malawi Disaster Relief

In early March 2019, almost half of Malawi was hit by torrential rains, both leading up to and resulting from, Cyclone Idai which caused devastating flooding across substantial parts of the Central and Southern Regions of the country. SIM Malawi, together with the Evangelical Association of Malawi, has been working to help alleviate some of the problems in the Chikhwawa District of Southern Malawi. In April we reported on the first delivery of aid. Now we look back on four deliveries and what is going to happen in the future.

The rains that hit Southern Malawi caused the Shire River to rise so quickly that people could only grab what they could carry and escape to higher ground. As a result of this, some 54 Displaced Persons Camps were established, in the Chikhwawa District alone.

The good news now, some two months since the rains hit, is that over half of those camps have now emptied as people have moved back to their villages to start the long process of getting their lives back into order.

Watching and waiting:  Children at the Kalima Camp waiting for food and other aid on the second distribution(photo credit: EAM)

SIM Malawi, working alongside the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), has had a significant part to play in getting people back to their own villages. Food and other aid, supplied through its Malawi Disaster Relief Project, have been distributed by EAM across four camps in the District, but more is needed and is planned to happen in the coming weeks.

“So far, we have had three distributions of food and other aid to four camps in Chikhwawa,” said Noel Chinyama, EAM’s Project Officer for Chikhwawa District.

“We have distributed aid to 925 displaced households in the camps. This works out at 4,034 people in total. We have concentrated on the most vulnerable groups, such as nursing mothers, the elderly and orphans in this work.”

EAM colleagues: Violet Katsonya and Noel Chinyama

The four camps are Alinafe and Phimbi, both of which are on the East Bank of the Shire River, Kalima, located in the Traditional Authority (T/A) Maseya, and Goma in T/A Ngabu. The general make-up of aid for each household has been:

10kgs maize flour

1kg salt

2 kgs beans

1 litre cooking oil

2 plates

2 mugs

1 cooking pot

In some cases, Likuni Phala, a soya-blend product to help give extra nutritional value, has also been included in the distribution.

Seeds and tools: In addition to the food supplies, beneficiaries in Chapananga Camp received a 2kg bag of maize seeds and a hoe to help with winter cropping (photo credit: EAM)

“These are very basic necessities for people who have lost everything,” said Noel.

But now the emphasis is starting to shift to providing aid that will help people as they return to their destroyed homes. Over the next couple of months, food aid will continue to be distributed, but added to that will be a variety of maize seeds and tools which will allow for winter cropping.

“There will be a need to keep providing people with food aid over the next two or three months to help them while the winter-cropping maize comes to harvest” said Noel.

 “The winter-cropping maize should have a significant impact as, depending whether a farmer has thoroughly done all the proper crop husbandry practices, a typical 0.1-hectare plot of land should be able to produce up to ten, 50kgs bags of maize. So, as it is estimated that one 50kg bag should last the average family one month, you can see that there should be sufficient to get the people through to the next main harvest in 2020.

“Normally this winter maize takes about three months from planting to harvest, so it is important to keep up the distribution of food aid to help people get through this period. The amount of aid we can deliver will depend on the level of funding that is available through SIM Malawi.

If you would like to continue to partner with us in this work, as we look to get people back into their villages and to some sort of normal life, by donating to the Disaster Relief Project, please visit and follow the prompts to the relevant page on your nearest SIM site. When donating, please quote SIM Malawi Project #MW96759 Malawi Disaster Relief

Thank you for your continued prayers and your support

“This is encouraging and is bringing much hope to people as they start to get back to normal.”

But there is still one more vital thing which is needed, and that is shelter. People returning to their villages and government-allocated land are putting up temporary structures, to replace the houses they lost to the floods, to provide some measure of shelter, but a more permanent solution needs to be found.

“We are hoping, again with help from SIM, that we may be able to work with the people in the villages to assist in providing them with materials to build more permanent homes,” said Noel.

“Our idea is for the people to provide the bricks for the houses and we could then help with timber and iron sheets for the roof and also concrete to make a solid floor. We think there is, maybe, another two to three months of work that is needed to get permanent houses constructed.”

This latest distribution to Chapananga saw 290 hluseholds and 1,741 people helped and bringing the total for the four distributions to 1,215 households and 5,775 people

Getting people back to their villages and to some level of normality is now the main focus of the work for SIM Malawi and EAM. But what should not be underestimated is the impact that the food and other aid has had on the people of Chikhwawa District who have been hit by this disaster.

“The reponse from people to provide food and other aid has been great,” Violet Katsonya who was heading up the EAM Distribution Teams.

“There is no doubt that the impact of getting this aid has been a great boost to the morale of the people who have lost everything. What has happened so far is good, but more is still needed, and we will be able to do even more, provided the funding comes in to allow us to buy essential seeds and building materials to make sure the good work which has started continues in the near future.”

Anxious faces: Beneficiaries at the Kalima Camp  (photo credit EAM)