Humanitarian Action for Children 2019 – Malawi

Over 3.3 million people are classified as in need of urgent humanitarian support due to consecutive poor harvests. These needs have been exacerbated due to Cyclone Idai which made landfall on 14-15 March. Heavy rains and fierce winds have resulted in severe flooding across 15 districts, affecting an estimated 869,000 people including 443,000 children. The most affect districts are Nsanie and Phalombe. The Government of Malawi declared a State of Disaster on 8 March. Displaced people have moved to over 100 different camp areas and seeking shelter in schools. The Government’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has deployed search and rescue teams to the hardest hit areas. The heavy rains and floods have severely impacted the country’s agricultural production.

Electricity and water supplies have also been impacted by the rains and floods and other critical infrastructure destroyed. The risk of disease outbreaks, which include cholera and measles, has significantly increased as a result of the floods.

Humanitarian strategy

UNICEF is focusing on providing immediate life saving and life sustaining assistance to populations affected by severe food insecurity and flooding, while also investing in resilience-building interventions. UNICEF is supporting the scale-up of Government-led responses that address the needs of the most affected children and families, including those with disabilities. In coordination with partners, UNICEF is seeking to reduce duplication of management costs by building on common pipelines where feasible. UNICEF will focus on delivering services through multi-sectoral responses in WASH, Health/HIV AIDS, Education, Child Protection, Nutrition and Social Protection, supported by communication and community engagement activities. UNICEF is supporting Government-led assessments through the use of innovation, including drones. UNICEF is establishing an operational field presence closer to the affected population to ensure the implementation of robust, well coordinated, flexible Government-led responses. Linkages of humanitarian and development approaches is being prioritized through collective outcomes and risk-informed programming. Capacity will be strengthened through existing surge response mechanisms, including cluster coordination, while UNICEF increases coverage and reach through working with Government and through additional partnerships. UNICEF will also work towards strengthening protection from sexual exploitation and abuse by establishing coordination structures to ensure crisis-affected populations have access to reporting mechanisms and assistance.

Results from 2019

In response to the cyclone, a UNICEF boat was loaned to DoDMA within the first two days of the flooding, to assist with search and rescue efforts. A UNICEF rapid response team has been deployed to the affected areas with a coordination structure established in Blantyre. UNICEF deployed drones to assist with the search and rescue and to provide real time images of flood damage. To date, UNICEF has provided WASH supplies to nine affected districts, including portable plastic toilets, soap and water treatment chemicals. Information on cholera prevention has also been distributed. In the worst affected Nsanje District, 4,000 IDPs have been reached with safe water through expansion of an existing reticulated water points. Also, some 4,500 people were provided with access to portable toilets at a camp in Chikwawa district. Community Based Child Care Centres, for children under five and Children’s Corners for older children have been established in 21 sites. Recreation kits have been distributed in 34 sites. UNICEF is dispatching additional supplies to affected districts including tents for displaced people currently living in classrooms, various WASH supplies and learning materials.

Source: UN Children’s Fund