Daud Kayisi: Media & Communications Coordinator, Malawi
She has no structures she can call home. She has no maize that would assure her of the next day’s meal. She has no kitchen utensils anyway! She has no luxury for choosing what to wear because she is only left with her red dress and a chitenje (wrapper). She has no toilet. Her ten chickens and three goats were all washed away. This describes the life of a 27 year old Marita Wyson, a flood victim from Shayibu village Traditional Authority Mkanda in Mulanje district.
“I take each day as it comes because I am not even sure what it has in store for me”, Marita told me when I asked her how the floods have affected her. “What if heavy rains come again and this school [now a flood victims’ camp] is washed away again. Life is really difficult now because floods have literally ‘killed’ me and my family.”
Since Marita and her husband hardly had a chance to rescue any of their cooking utensils, life has become “hell” at the camp because sometimes they do not even have drinking water.
“I can’t draw water because I have no buckets to do so and for the past one week or so I have been depending on other families I met at the camp. However, the water we are using is not clean because it is being fetched from muddy shallow wells and we do not even have a luxury to purify it,” narrates Marita.
However, the single mother of three can now afford to smile somewhat, thanks to water sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) items that Oxfam has given her.
“I don’t know how to say it, but I am very thankful to what Oxfam has done. I can now draw water and purify it with water guard. As you can see, the only clothes I have are the ones I am wearing now and this hygiene kit will help me restore the dignity I would have lost as a woman.”
Early this month, floods hit 15 of the country’s 28 districts, killing 53 people and displacing 121 000 people across the country. Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management says 153 people are still missing and 638,000 have been affected with the violent waters. Oxfam in Malawi’s Situation Report indicates that although data of the victims hasn’t been desegregated yet, women and children are the most disproportionally affected.
This prompted President Peter Wamutharika, to declare Malawi a state of disaster and called on well wishers, the international community and NGOs to assist in the rescue process and aiding those that have been affected.
In a rapid response to the presidential call, Oxfam through its Malawi office is aiding more than 4000 households in Mulanje, one of the hardest hit districts. So far, Oxfam has allocated £100 000 which is among other things being used to buy water purification tablets, hygiene kits for women, temporary toilets, buckets and plastic sheets that people can use to elect temporary shelters.
Meanwhile, Oxfam in Malawi is designing an emergency food security and livelihood project that will not only support the affected communities to access safe and dignified WaSH services, but also enhance recovery of their livelihoods.
This project will make Marita’s wish come true.“Since all my crops were washed away, I desire to replant early maturing crops because without doing so, my family’s life will be miserable because we do not have food now and we will not be surviving on aid forever,” says Marita.