Southern Malawi. No one had to tell Noria Jailosi, a widow in her late 70s caring for 5 grandchildren, that the President of Malawi had declared a national emergency. Up to now her home had been in Sangwe Village in the southern Malawi district of Chikwawa, but now she no longer had a home or any of her possessions. She had nothing. On top of that no one near her had anything either. Everything had been swept away in the floods.
In 2019 the world looked in horror as Cyclone Idai swept in from the Indian Ocean, dropping an estimated 150 mm of rain in just 24 hours. Widespread destruction followed and many areas of this poverty-stricken nation are still trying to recover. For Noria and the people in her area it was even worse this year. In a single 24-hour period tropical storm Anna inundated the area with over 250 mm of rainfall (9.84252 inches). Almost a third of the entire nation was affected. Because much of Malawi’s electricity is generated from hydroelectric plants along the Shire River, the flooding disrupted electrical output, and along with no electricity, water to the capital was also shut down.
The damage included collapsed houses, washed out roads, blown-off roofs; death of livestock; contamination from destroyed latrines, washed away brick fences, bridges, culverts, and other road structures; the loss of all household items, damaged public and private infrastructure, including schools, health facilities and churches. Teaching and learning materials were gone, crops washed away, damage to power plants caused power disruptions, and the contamination of water sources.
No wonder despair could be seen on the faces of people like Noria, and no wonder she was not surprised with the declaration of emergency from the government.
Aid Brings Relief
In late March relief arrived in three large trucks as Action for Progress, and churches of Christ in Blantyre and Lilongwe arrived with food, kitchen supplies, and clothes for villages in the Lower shire Valley. The trucks went to three different distribution centers. Along with Noria, her grandchildren and residents in her part of Malawi, others were reached in neighboring districts. Jean Chikhalu, a woman in her late 60s, who had lived in Mphamba Village. Like Noria, her house was demolished by the storm, and she had nowhere to live. Along with hundreds of others these old women were given needed items to survive coming weeks.