Lilongwe, 16 Jan – MapAction has sent two volunteers and one staff member to Malawi at the request of the United Nations and Malawi government to assist with the response to severe flooding.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 70,000 people have been displaced and 48 killed by extensive floods caused by recent heavy rain (as of 14 January). The floods have also caused widespread damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure. Initial assessments indicate that the southern districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Phalombe and Zomba have been particularly badly affected.
It is anticipated that MapAction’s volunteers will work within the UN’s central coordination hub in Lilongwe, but they may also travel to affected areas to assist with assessments. The charity’s Technical Director, Andy Smith, is joining the volunteer team to support the first use of MapAction’s new web mapping capability in a live emergency following extensive development and testing in scenario training situations.
The President of the Republic of Malawi has declared a State of Emergency in the 15 affected districts and appealed to the international community for assistance in search-and-rescue expertise, as well as the provision of tents, food and non-food items.
This is MapAction’s first emergency deployment to Malawi, however the charity provided training in GIS and GPS* for disaster response for Malawian government agencies in 2008. Malawi is also one of the focus countries for MapAction’s preparedness activities – Resilient Action for Mapping Preparedness (RAMP). These earlier preparations have resulted in much quicker access to relevant data to support this emergency response. You can read more on RAMP here.
* GIS – Geographical Information Systems / GPS – Global Positioning System