5th February 2015 – New figures from the UN show twice as many people affected and displaced by the floods in Malawi, Unicef said today.

“With these new numbers, and while prioritising additional severely affected districts, we need to take stock of our response to ensure all children and families have access to emergency services and supplies”, said Mahimbo Mdoe, Unicef Representative in Malawi. “We are carefully monitoring how displaced children are fairing, as we know after one month in crowded camps, disease outbreaks and increased malnutrition can occur.”

The figures released by the UNDAC assessment team,[i] reveal 336,000 have been displaced by the flooding (up from 174,000) and more than one million are affected (up from 638,000). 276 are dead or missing, and a new figure estimates 645 people have been injured. With rains still falling in the area, many of those displaced into ad hoc camps and evacuation centres are still unable to return home to begin rebuilding their lives. 

Health concerns

Health and sanitation related issues remain high on the alert. Unicef continues to focus its efforts on prevention, monitoring and treatment of conditions and infections including cholera, dysentery, malaria and malnutrition. So far 56,000 women and children have accessed essential health care services within the camps and Unicef-supported government clinics. Nutrition screening and growth monitoring services have been stepped up, and to date a total of 287 severely malnourished children have been admitted for treatment. 

Unicef and partners are leading the effort to provide enough sanitation and clean water facilities, with support from DFID/UKAid, the European Union and USAID. So far, 38,721 people in the camps have access to latrines, and 27,674 have been provided with safe drinking water. 

“Unicef is working closely with Government and NGO partners to install enough water and sanitation facilities to keep water borne diseases at bay, critical for the survival of young children,” said Unicef’s Mdoe. “One month in we are on target, but with these new numbers we need to look at scaling up services again to cover these additional prioritized districts. We already have a US$3.8 million (£2.5 million) funding gap, and that’s likely to increase as we move into recovery phase.” 


The floods disrupted education for 300,000 learners as schools were occupied by thousands of displaced families. As displaced families are re-located, Unicef is supporting schools to reopen so that children in the camps and those in host communities can continue their education. To ensure schools can continue to house families, and function as schools, Unicef has provided school tents and supplies to set up temporary learning spaces during daytime, and accommodation for families during the night.  

Child Protection 

Children in crowded camps, especially those that have been separated from or have lost family members, are vulnerable to abuse, including violence and trafficking. 

Unicef has supported the deployment of additional social welfare officers to the affected areas, so they can ensure a process for reporting any cases of violence and abuse, and oversee a quick response.


Notes for editors

For more information, please contact the Unicef UK press office on 020 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk 

Background: Malawi suffered prolonged heavy rains in early January, leading to unprecedented flooding in southern and eastern districts. With at least 330,000 displaced, Unicef is working through its teams on the ground in Blantyre and Zomba to deliver life-saving interventions to those in the hardest hit districts: Nsanje, Chikwawa, Zomba, Mulanje and Phalombe. Unicefhas launched an appeal for US$9.3 million (£6.1 million) to cover its emergency response for three months.

[1] UNDAC Assessment report, presented on 4th February 2015.

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk