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After floods, UNICEF helps children get back to school in southern Malawi

UNICEF Image: Malawi: flood relief
© UNICEF Malawi/2007
Children walk into a UNICEF-supplied tent that will serve as their temporary school while rebuilding continues in flood-affected southern Malawi.

By Kusali Kubwalo

NSANJE, Malawi, 22 January 2007 – More than 1,000 children in southern Malawi are heading back to school – albeit a week late – in the aftermath of flash floods and heavy rains that devastated the area earlier this month.

The flooding affected over 22,000 households, resulting in the destruction of livestock, crops and over 1,000 homes – some of them belonging to teachers. The downpours also meant that at least 10 primary schools in Nsanje and Chikwawa Districts were closed or destroyed, affecting thousands of pupils. UNICEF’s intervention has helped most of the schools to reopen.

“Getting children back to school after a disaster is part of a process of returning the children’s lives to normal,” says UNICEF Representative in Malawi Aida Girma.

‘New beautiful school’

One destroyed school, Kaombe Junior Primary, had an enrolment of 400 children living within a radius of 40 km. The next closest school was too far away for the students to walk to, meaning they would have had to forego education until facilities were rebuilt. But UNICEF has provided tents to be used as temporary schools in the interim, ensuring that children will be able to continue their classes.

UNICEF Image: Malawi: flood relief
© UNICEF Malawi/2007
Schoolchildren in southern Malawi’s Nsanje District help to set up a school tent after their regular school was washed away by floods.

The new Kaombe Junior Primary School comprises two framed tents, courtesy of UNICEF.

“I am happy that we now have a brand new beautiful school, which I have taken part in building,” said Dama Amadu, 10, a pupil at one of the schools that have just received tents.

Supplies for families

UNICEF has also dispatched emergency supplies to the flood-affected areas so that families can resume a semblance of their former lives. Tents for shelter, emergency survival kits, hurricane lamps, plastic buckets, chlorine, soap, jerry cans to carry water, and pots and pans – among other supplies – are being provided.

Some of these supplies have also been distributed in advance to districts that normally experience flooding in the rainy season.

Nsanje District, at the lower tip of southern Malawi, experiences floods when the country’s largest river – the Shire – breaks its banks following heavy rains and runoff from hilly areas.



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