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Disastrous Flooding Compounds Malawi's Food Woes

Malawi declares flood emergency

The flood will make Malawi's food shortages worse

BBCNews.com, Jan. 12, 2003

Malawi President Bakili Muluzi has declared a "state of national disaster" and called for international assistance following severe floods in several parts of the country.

"This is a disaster of highest proportion," Mr Muluzi said in a national address on Saturday after making an aerial inspection of the area.

The floods, caused by torrential rain, have killed at least eight people and displaced thousands more at a time when the country faces famine because of a drought.

Six out of Malawi's 28 districts have been affected, including Salima where aid agencies have been supplying emergency food rations for a year.

Homeless people were now taking refuge in schools, churches and the open ground, Mr Muluzi said on national radio.

Many homes and gardens have been washed away and livestock killed.

But a full assessment of the situation has not been made as many districts have been cut off following the destruction of roads and bridges.

"The situation is likely to be much worse than we estimate now," Lucius Chikuni, Malawi's commissioner for Disaster Preparedness told Reuters.

The United Nations estimated last year that three million Malawians are at risk from famine.

Neighbouring Mozambique was also affected by floods this week.

Officials in the provinces of Nampula and Zambezia say 5,000 people have been made homeless.