LOCAL charity F.R.O.M. Scotland (Famine Relief for Orphans in Malawi) were on hand to provide an immediate response to victims of flooding that hit Malawi last month.
The local charity were able to provide immediate help to refugees forced to abandon their homes through Dr Tracy Morse, born and brought up in the Inverurie area, who works with children in the south of the country.
But although the flood waters are now subsiding and the heavy rain has stopped, the situation remains critical for refugees from the disaster, as many have found that their homes and villages, which are mainly constructed from mud bricks, have been destroyed and they now have nowhere to go.
The flooding has also caused a food supply crisis, as crops were destroyed, and the price of the most basic foodstuffs has rocketed.
Last month, heavy and persistent rain for two weeks caused the Shire River to overflow across swathes of the south of the country. Evacuation centres were established with the help of aid agencies in the region. Tracy operates out of Blantyre, a city founded through the missionary work of the Church of Scotland and close to the Chikwawa region, one of the worst hit areas. The region is an area of remote villages with little in the way of infrastructure. Roads are nothing more than tracks, and with no bridges, crossing rivers is usually done by using fords. Flooding has made travel almost impossible, and there is an added danger from hippos and crocodiles, who inhabit rivers in the area.
Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world with a high infant-mortality rate, its economy is mainly based on agriculture, and it relies heavily on foreign-aid.
Local charity F.R.O.M. Scotland, founded in 2005, to support the work of Tracy in helping to feed and care for thousands of orphans and other vulnerable children in the region, had supplied around £5000 for a bore-hole project to supply fresh water later this year. However, with the impact of the flooding causing immediate hardship for thousands in the worst hit areas, she used the funds to purchase urgently needed supplies for the refugees, including much need local fortified maize porridge mix, known locally as ‘likuni phala’, chemicals to purify water, mosquito nets, blankets and basic utensils such as cups, spoons and buckets. Additional funds will be used to purchase much needed medicines and basic first-aid supplies.
Since the initial flooding, aid agencies and charities, including F.R.O.M. Scotland, have been working hard to ensure the refugees have food, clean water, and shelter. Tracy was able to report this week that, thankfully, there had been no outbreaks of cholera reported, which can often spread in the wake of flooding through contaminated water, but there remains a high risk of malaria due to mosquito infestation.
In a country that exists mainly from agriculture, the floods will also have an obvious impact on food supplies, as many crops were destroyed by the flood waters. Accordingly the price of basic staples such as maize has already increased, and shortages are likely to get worse in the coming weeks and months.
F.R.O.M. Scotland will continue to provide aid to the area, and donations can be made by visiting the website http://fromscotland.org.uk , at http://www.justgiving.com/from or at www.btmydonate.com and entering fromscotland.