The 2016/17 rainy season has so far claimed 17 lives, with 9 lost due to lightning, Commissioner for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), Ben Botolo, disclosed on Wednesday.
He said this at press briefing the Department organized at its Headquarters in Lilongwe to brief the public on how much ground government had covered in the distribution of relief items to the families affected by food shortage across the country.
The Commissioner, who is also the Principal Secretary to the Vice President, said other than the 9 reported deaths caused by lightening the Department had also received reports of some weather-related deaths caused by either drowning or collapsing buildings falling over occupants.
On how much ground the Department had covered in distributing relief items, Botolo said by early January, all the 6.7million people who were estimated by the third Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Commission (MVAC) to have been food insecure had been reached across the country.
As you may recall the second round of MVAC put the estimated number of people in need of food across the country at 6.5 million. But the third round of MVAC discovered that there were 200,000 people more in need of food, Botolo hinted.
So the total figure rose to 6.7 million and we started the distribution with Phalombe District in July 2016 and by early January 2017 we had managed to reach out to all the 6.7 million people with relief items.
He said this meant that from January up to March 2017, which is the tentative cut-off point of the relief food distribution, all the 6.7 million people would be receiving the relief items.
The Commissioner stressed that the Department was ready for any eventualities during the current La Nina propelled weather and that they had prepositioned all the needed support in various strategic places.
We have marine soldiers already in place in Lower Shire with about nine boats and we also have helicopters at the ready to take care of the situation in the event that the Ruo River misbehaves, Botolo pointed out.
He added that the Department was also aware that floods up north commence around end February and March and that in the event that Songwe River misbehaved the marine team would be moved there.
The Food Insecurity Response Budget that was launched in 2016 pegged the total monetary requirement at US$395.3m to cater for the initial 6.5 million needy people in the areas of food security, agriculture, water and sanitation, nutrition, protection, education and health, with US$307.5 million as requirement of food cluster alone.
Government, in collaboration with its partners is in the process of mobilizing resources to fill the existing gap which as of 31 December was at US$ 25.9m, Botolo said.
He said government was yet to realize the insurance payout of US$8.1m from the African Risk Insurance Company and that the proceeds would be used for the purchase of pulses for the Malawians in dire need of food.
Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA