BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Prevention of waterborne diseases is a priority in Malawi where floods have killed at least 176 people, an aid official said Sunday.
Malawi's heavy flooding has displaced at least 200,000 people, submerged whole villages in some areas, destroying homes, drowning crops and washing away livestock.
The threat of waterborne diseases such as malaria, cholera and diarrhea have become a priority, Oxfam's country director in Malawi, John Makina, told The Associated Press from the capital Lilongwe.
"Some of the drinking water sources have been completely submerged and contaminated," said Makina. He said his organization is distributing prevention methods and teaching people how to purify water in tent camps and affected communities.
Malawi's southern districts, which have been the worst hit, remain difficult to access because of impassable roads, said Makina. In other areas the floods are receding and people who had taken refuge in tented camps are beginning to return home, he said.
Malawi's government has taken the lead in coordinating relief efforts with aid organizations, said Makina.
"That's been a very positive development," he said.
With heavy rains expected to continue, Vice President Saulos Chilima urged Malawians in low-lying areas to move to higher ground and avoid crossing rivers. Chilima said government officials and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had flown over the worst affected areas and were compiling a report on the damage.
Chutel reported from Johannesburg.