I posted a quick update on Facebook the other day and thought that I should send a quick update out.
The image above has been making the rounds on social media. It is a bridge that we have crossed a number of times. It is the main way in and out of the southern regions of Malawi. It is large enough that it will survive but it is dangerous to cross at the moment.
The most recent reports put the number of affected at 250,000. That is likely best guestimate considering that Malawi has a hard time keeping track of its population at the best of times.
Some have asked how they can help. The short answer is wait for a few days then donate to a reputable relief agency. Once there are some viable options I will post again.
Getting relief to the flooded area is complicated by at least two factors. First, it isn’t like there are warehouses nearby filled with necessary supplies. When an entire country lives close to the margin, there are no surplus essentials that are not already getting used. There is no ocean access for large quantities of goods. The closest “international” airport recently had some flights suspended in/out of it because of its safety. It is open now but still, not a major hub. And, as the picture shows, driving is very difficult. So, no access to necessary goods and difficult circumstances to get them there. This will require complicated planning.
Second, while there are lots of NGOs and implementing organizations on the ground here, this is an extraordinary event. Organizations can only respond when they know what is going on and that still isn’t clear. There are very few helicopters in the country for instance. Getting to some of these places to assess is hard. Then, once they assess they can then appeal to the broader international community. Once the large organizations step in with emergency funding then things will start to move along but they are a few days from that yet.
In the mean time you can remember southern Malawi in your prayers.