As heavy rains continue to fall in Malawi, UNICEF is stepping up its relief efforts, airlifting an initial 90 tons of supplies, as it seeks to reach those most in need.

UNICEF is working through its teams on the ground in Blantyre and Zomba to deliver life-saving interventions to those in the hardest hit districts: Nsanje, Chikwawa and Phalombe all in the Shire River Basin. Focused on displaced women and children, the UN Children’s Agency is supporting partners including the Government of Malawi, to provide clean water and temporary sanitation, monitor the nutritional status of children – and treat severe cases – and distribute essential medicines for women and children.

“After surveying the flooded districts from the air, we know that the scale of flooding is immense, and with the rains still falling, the water is unlikely to recede quickly,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Malawi, Mahimbo Mdoe. “UNICEF is focused in this initial phase on ensuring those who have survived the raging waters are supported with their essential needs such as clean water and health care.”

UNICEF is this week airlifting 90 tons of relief supplies including: essential medicines, tents and tarpaulins, therapeutic food and milk for treating malnutrition, hygiene kits and education and play supplies to aid children’s psychosocial recovery.

The Malawi Government is leading the coordination mechanism for response initiatives with UN Agencies and NGOs as co-leads.

Malawi, one of the poorest countries in Southern Africa, has experienced unusually heavy rains this season, leaving 200 people dead or missing and 120,000 displaced. Some are still trapped in areas surrounded by water, waiting for air or water rescue by the Malawi Defence Force (MDF). Displaced communities are being housed in schools or ad hoc camps, with a shortage of decent shelter and sanitation facilities. Rains are expected to continue until March.

“Stagnant water and poor sanitation can be deadly for young children, so we are in a race against time to reach displaced communities with clean water, sanitation and medical supplies” said UNICEF’s Mdoe.

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