Thousands of families in urgent need of support as heavy rains sweep across southern Africa

Publié: 16 janvier 2015

Gaborone/Geneva, 16 January 2015 – Weeks of heavy rains have left tens of thousands of families homeless and in desperate need of support in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

“Homes have been washed away, crops have been destroyed, and people have lost everything. While many are seeking shelter in schools and churches, we are hearing of families also living under trees,” said Michael Charles, acting regional representative, southern Africa, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “We need to increase the deployment of resources to ensure these people receive the support they so desperately need.”

An estimated 106,000 people have been displaced in Malawi, along with 90,000 in Mozambique, and at least 6,000 in Zimbabwe.

With water sources contaminated and sanitation infrastructure damaged, concerns are mounting over a possible outbreak of disease. “We are focusing on two key areas at the moment: providing shelter to make sure everyone has somewhere dry to stay, and getting clean water to affected communities to mitigate the spread of diseases like cholera or acute diarrhoea outbreaks,” Charles said.

The IFRC has activated its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to kickstart response activities in Zimbabwe, in support of 2,500 people. Further funding will also be allocated for activities in Malawi and Mozambique, and Field Assessment Coordination Teams (FACT) are being mobilized. To date, Red Cross volunteers from the affected countries have been assisting in search and rescue operations, providing relief items such as tarpaulins, mosquito nets and blankets, and registering displaced families. They are also involved in conducting rapid assessments to determine the most pressing needs.

In Malawi, the hardest hit country, Red Cross teams have managed to reach 7,000 households with emergency relief items. But with roads washed out in all three countries, access is proving a challenge.

“Every year at this time, people in southern Africa are faced with having to flee their homes because of flooding,” said Charles. “The Red Cross has helped communities prepare by pre-positioning stocks, training staff and volunteers, and raising awareness in communities of how they can be better prepared. But it is clear we need to do more. We cannot stop the heavy rains, but we can work with communities to ensure they are better situated, so they are not affected so adversely.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the worlds largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. 


For further information, please contact:

In Botswana:

  • Michael Charles, acting regional representative, IFRC, southern Africa

Mobile: +267 713 953 39 E-mail:

In Accra:

•           Katherine Mueller, communications manager, IFRC Africa

Mobile : +254 731 688 613 or +251 930 03 3413 E-mail :

In Geneva:

•           Benoit Carpentier, team leader, public communications, IFRC

Mobile : +41 79 213 24 13 E-mail :