The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is scaling up emergency assistance in Malawi, where an estimated 33,000 people have been displaced following recent flooding in the southern region.
The floods have also destroyed crops and interrupted learning in over 20 schools in Mangochi, Phalombe and Nsanje districts, the agency stated in a news release.
"Communities, government, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and the UN are working together to avert a humanitarian disaster," said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF Country Representative in Malawi. "But the rains are persistent and we remain on high alert as the flooding spreads to other areas."
UNICEF noted that persistent rains have rendered roads inaccessible, hampering efforts to deliver much-needed aid such as food, emergency shelter and medical supplies. It has also compromised access to safe water, sanitation and overall hygiene in the affected communities.
The agency is responding by providing communities with a combination of water, sanitation and hygiene-related supplies, including chlorine, soap, water purification chemicals, plastic sheeting for construction of temporary bathing and latrine shelters, as well as hygiene-awareness campaigns to prevent the risk of cholera.
Learning in at least 20 locations has been disrupted because many displaced families have been using schools as shelters. UNICEF has provided school-in-a-box supplies to ensure that quality learning resumes in the affected primary schools.
"Vital supplies are getting through to stricken communities," said Mr. Mdoe. "But as UNICEF we remain vigilant, monitoring childhood diseases, ensuring schools are functional and that children go back to learning."