The Houses Down the Hill


— By Mcdonald from Malawi

Malawi is one of the countries in Africa which experiences disasters every year. Floods and draughts are great enemies to the country with interrupted developmental goals every year. In 2015 only, 146 people went missing and other discovered dead after heavy floods hit many districts across the country. Parts of the country known to be more vulnerable to disasters are those in lower shire in the South and some districts in Northern parts of Malawi due to their geographical position. But in 2015, an unusual phenomenon happened; some other districts that were not known to be disaster prone areas were also hit by fatal floods.

Among those new declared areas of disasters were Blantyre –where I live- and other districts in the Eastern region of the country. Blantyre is a commercial city of Malawi. Most of its topography is mountainous which makes it strange to be affected by floods.

Last year it was not floods on flat land that killed people but rocks, trees and other objects carried down from hills by running water. It was houses built on hills, along river banks and on foot of hills brought down and swept away by speedy water and rocks. In response to that catastrophic time, both national and international organisations, governments, individual and other groups pumped in millions in form of disaster relief support to affected communities.

A big question remains: Instead of splashing relief items to the so called ‘disaster victims’, shouldn’t these assistance bodies deal with what is actually causing these human made disasters?

This is 2016 and Malawi has already experienced disasters with the very first rains in some parts of the country. On November 17th  I had a chance to tour Bangwe community in Blantyre, where issues of deforestation is a major challenge despite some few nongovernmental organisations striving to promote reforestation in the area.

One of them is called Sustainable Rural Growth and Development Initiative (SRGDI). This organisation is working with members of Bangwe Community to address issues affecting the community as a result of deforestation. The community is comprised of two villages; Mwamadi and Wisiki. The villages are at the base of Bangwe Mountain that has lost its natural vegetation and beauty due to human activities. I think that the mountain is now retaliating by posing disasters on communities with floods, strong winds and waterborne diseases outbreaks.

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