Jen Clark has just returned from Malawi where she saw first-hand the impact of the worst flooding to hit the country in nearly two decades.
Nsanje, a community in the south of Malawi, has been rocked by recent events.
As we entered the region, it was clear something had gone terribly wrong. While the waters have receded, the damage left behind is still palpable.
Boniface Chamambala holds a 'For the love of' placard. He had to leave his home because of the flooding
Far from home and hungry
Before me, thousands of families were camped out in tents pitched in muddy, wet fields. Camp Bitilinyu holds 11,000 people who’ve been displaced by the floods.
In the heat of the day, many were at a loss for what to do - far from home, hungry, and without the means to earn themselves a living.
Families had no warning that the floods would wreak such devastation on their lives.
Emergency relief and recovery
Our partner, Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD), is on the frontline of the response effort - providing emergency relief and rehabilitation assistance to help communities like Camp Bitilinyu get back on their feet.
Thousands of people are struggling to survive in the wake of this disaster.
CARD is working to provide people with access to clean water, toilet facilities and temporary shelter, as well as essential household and hygiene items including blankets, mats and water purification tablets.
Boniface Chamambala, 56, told me: ‘We experience rains each and every year, but this one is almost ten times what we’ve experienced in the past. We were expecting rain, but not that much. We did not know it would be such a disaster.’
When the rains hit, he and his family fled for their lives in all directions. This meant that his wife crossed the border into Mozambique at first. The family were living apart for several days.
‘I felt like I was in pain because we were separated - especially because I did not know if my wife had food. We just had to run for our lives. We had no time to take anything with us.’
After a few days, rescue boats arrived and many families were reunited in this camp, where they will remain until a safe return is possible.
‘I don’t know how many houses were destroyed, but I know it’s a lot. I don’t know what the situation is with my home.’
‘The children are mentally disturbed by this situation. Right now they are not going to school; they are just in these camps.’
Boniface and his wife are currently living in this camp with their two children and their grandchild, who is no longer going to school.
‘The children are mentally disturbed by this situation. Right now they are not going to school; they are just in these camps. All their school materials like notebooks have been lost.’
An uncertain future
It was encouraging to see that people now have access to clean, safe water, and toilet facilities are available. I could see latrines being built during my visit.
Help is on its way thanks to the work of CARD and others on the ground, but life will remain difficult in the weeks ahead for families coming to terms with their loss, and facing an uncertain future.
For the love of Nsanje…
At the best of times, Nsanje is a community which doesn’t have much – most people live on less than a dollar a day.
It has been left devastated by increasingly erratic weather conditions.
During my visit I saw first-hand how climate change is damaging livelihoods and wrecking the lives of those who have done the least to cause it. Here, climate change is very real and it is happening now.
I feel strongly that we have to act to protect vulnerable people like Boniface and his family.
Christian Aid is supporting the ‘For the love of’ campaign - the idea being that we all love something which is affected by climate change. I am supporting this campaign for the love of Nsanje… for the love of people’s homes and family, security and safety.
Please join me in saying enough is enough.
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