Thursday, 5 February 2015

Malawi - After the floods that devastated the south of the country, Sant’Egidio mobilizes to provide assistance

The death toll of the floods that have recently ravaged the south of Malawi is rising. In most of the districts that are run through by the River Shire, water has covered very broad tracts of land, washing away the poor homes of about 200,000 people, as well as bridges, schools and health centers. In the flooded areas it is extremely difficult to plan for a rapid return to farming and livestock breeding, and the specter of famine looms over the country. One should not forget that agriculture is the driving sector of the entire economy. It accounts for 30% of the gross national product and employs 85% of the population. The risk of famine is compounded by the danger of diseases due to the many carcasses of animals in the flooded areas and the ensuing poisoning of the water sources. The Malawi government has turned to the international community for help (the donors had frozen their contributions in response to the serious corruption episodes of the past months) asking that funds be raised to allow the reconstruction and plan for the recovery. The Pope himself has issued the same appeal. 

The Community of Sant’Egidio too has decided to address Malawi’s needs and has initiated a fundraiser. Those who lost their homes need shelter; those who lost their crops need seeds and fertilizer in the near future. In addition, the extreme need for food needs to be confronted, as well as the scarcity of medicines and of products for the preservation of public hygiene.
 In the Community’s website, www.santegidio.org, a letter by the new parish priest of Saint Vincent de’ Paoli in Blantyre, father Ernest Kafunsa, of the Priestly Fraternity of Sant’Egidio, describes the dramatic conditions of the country and expresses gratitude for the Community’s mobilization: “A few days ago I visited several villages in the south of Malawi, the region that was hit the hardest by the flood. Many people live in camps for displaced people, they look like refugees in their own land: to save themselves from the water people had sought refuge on top of hills and trees.” Conditions are severe in town as well: “Blantyre, the main city, is without power or water: for a week now it has been necessary to collect rain water to supply drinking water, and at any time a cholera epidemic may break out”.

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