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World Bank Offers Quick Access to Flood Response Funds in Malawi

January 26, 2015

World Bank Group

  • Thousands of people have been displaced because of unusually heaving rainfall and flooding in Malawi
  • To aid the government’s response and recovery efforts, the World Bank Group re-allocated $600,000
  • Community mapping of villages allows for more accurate damage assessment and response to community needs

BLANTYRE, January 26, 2015 –Unusually heavy seasonal rainfall has caused widespread flooding in 15 of Malawi’s 28 districts, prompting the government to declare half of the country a disaster zone. To help support the government’s flood response efforts, the World Bank Group (WBG) has provided $600,000 from its Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development project.

Through the contingency financing window for disaster response under the project, the WBG was able to respond within two days of the request. The funds are to be used for activities such as land recovery, damage assessments, activities that facilitate opening up access to flooded areas and the related required logistical support.  Emergency relief and response is carried out by the government, its partners and the United Nations. 

" We have been impressed with the proactive response and leadership by the Government of Malawi in responding to the disaster "

Francis Nkoka

WBG disaster risk management specialist for Malawi

“Through our previous close partnership with DoDMA we have been able to quickly respond to the request for assistance and stand ready to further support based on our current analytical and disaster risk management work,” said Francis Nkoka, WBG disaster risk management specialist for Malawi.

Until early January when continuous storms battered much of the southern half of the country, Malawi had been dealing with the negative effects of a prolonged dry season. Even though Malawi already has an extensive disaster risk management framework, the scale of the event prompted the government to request international assistance after an estimated 200,000 people were displaced, along with the loss of 176 lives. Additionally, more than 63,000 hectares of agricultural land has been inundated by flood waters threatening the livelihoods of many farmers. This is particularly challenging, as agriculture accounts for 42% percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The floods have also washed away livestock and damaged infrastructure, household assets, plus school and health facilities.

Further support has been carried out by the World Bank Africa Disaster Risk Management team, which coordinates with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs to assist with the ongoing flood assessments and prioritization of needs. These assessments draw upon previous community mapping efforts carried out as part of the Malawi Spatial Data Platform, a free, open source geospatial data sharing platform that launched in 2014. The platform allows for access to critical information such as flood vulnerability and land-use data sets. This information is being shared across government departments and has been especially helpful for assessing areas currently inaccessible due to high water. Furthermore, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) Innovation Lab is providing remote sensing imagery, such as satellite produced maps, to capture the extent of the floods.

Using these collaborative efforts, the World Bank is able to ensure quick access to funds and will continue to support the country’s flood recovery efforts. 


In Lilongwe:
Zeria Banda

In Washington, DC:
Marc Neilson