Earthquake in Malawi: “We thought the end had come”

Malawi quake

CRS is helping to distribute essential household items to families affected by the earthquake, including buckets for water storage. Photo courtesy of CADECOM

Throughout December, dozens of earthquakes and tremors rocked northern Malawi, culminating in a 6.0-magnitude quake on December 20, 2009. More than 3,000 families abandoned their homes due to extensive damage or significant cracks that made them uninhabitable.

“We thought the end had come,” said family after family interviewed.

CRS immediately began responding with its local Church partner, the Diocese of Mzuzu. CRS Malawi first expedited a regular food shipment to the affected region, using that visit to assess the situation. Shelter emerged as the primary need. Over the past month, CRS has transported and distributed materials to enable affected families to build temporary shelters—a critical need as the rainy season begins.

CRS is also addressing health and sanitation issues. Project staff are teaching residents about good hygiene, and CRS is digging garbage pits to improve cleanliness in affected villages. The district has also asked CRS to assist with distributions of food, mosquito nets, soap, and water purification tablets.
CRS continues to monitor and respond to the situation as additional needs emerge and funding allows.

-Reported by Debbie DeVoe, CRS’ regional information officer for eastern and southern Africa

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