Following Wednesday night’s and Tuesday afternoon’s heavy downpour in the central region, floods have hit Lilongwe and other central region districts with rivers filling up wrecking havoc to crops and infrastructure.
Swelling Lilongwe River on Thursday afternoon forced some vendors plying their trade at one of the Lilongwe’s biggest local markets – Tsoka – to suspend their business operations as they watched their stalls, shacks, makeshift pit latrines and other market infrastructure submerge in water.
Tsoka Market is close to Lilongwe Bridge and along the Lilongwe River where the vendors have encroached the river bank in search of space.
By noon on Thursday, Lilongwe river was filled up to the brim and panicking vendors were seen moving to safer places with their merchandise.
The most affected are those operating mini restaurants, private toilets, those selling second hand shoes, and local beer brewers plying their trade along the river banks.
Some vendors have since moved ‘upland’, plying their trade along the M1 road contrary to the city by-laws.
“This is too much, we haven’t seen this for a while. This has heavily affected our business ” said one of the vendors identified as Ajidu Umali from Kawale Township.
The incident negatively affects vendors who survive on the little cash they get from their small businesses daily.
Sanitation issues are equally at risk of worsening as some pit latrines dug close to the river bed are submerged in water.
The incident comes at a time when the city authorities have come under fire for acting slow on the implementation of city’s risk reduction strategy.
Malawi has come up with national strategies to implement resilience programs including the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy 3 (MDGS III) and the National Resilience Strategy (NRS).
The documents have been aligned to the UN led Sendai Framework For Disaster Risk Reduction, a global blue print for implementing disaster risk reduction interventions.
In a statement released on Tuesday the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) warned heavy rains expected in the South and Central parts of the country will trigger flash floods.
Reads a statement signed by Director of DCCMS Jolamu Nkhokwe :”Heavy rainfall, associated with strong winds, lightning and thunder, is expected over the central, southern and lakeshore areas of the country as from Wednesday 12 February to Friday 14 February 2020. This is due to the influence of Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone and the presence of a deep low pressure cell over central areas of Malawi.”
It further reads: “The anticipated heavy rains are therefore likely to trigger flash floods, particularly those areas that are flood prone and low-lying in the south, center and lakeshore, as soils are already wet in most areas in the country. On the other hand, strong winds and lightning could destroy property, cause injury and loss of lives.”
In related news, thousands of homesteads are submerged in flood waters in the lakeshore district of Nkhotakota following heavy rains.
Details on the extent of damage was not yet known at the time of filing this report but some sources have informed iHubOnline that the situation could be dire.