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COOPI conducts mock floods disaster in Mangochi

Written by  Kondwani Magombo
First aider gets ready to provide help to unconscious floods victim - Pic by Kondwani Magombo First aider gets ready to provide help to unconscious floods victim - Pic by Kondwani Magombo

MANGOCHI, April 15, 2018: Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), an international non-profit making humanitarian organization on Thursday conducted flood disaster simulation at Lungwena in Mangochi district to test the capacity of the area’s disaster management system.

The simulation exercise took place at Chapola Village in Group Village Headman (GVH) Chapola, Traditional Authority Namabvi as part of the project COOPI is implementing in the area to strengthen disaster risk management systems.

According to COOPI Project Manager in Malawi, Rosalba Vendemia, Chapola Village was chosen owing to the area’s vulnerability to floods as it is at the end of Lungwena River which feeds into Lake Malawi besides the area being devastated by floods in 2015.

The simulation exercise started from the GVH’s headquarters with flood alerts received from upstream through whistle blowing, drum beats and screams of floods and upon receiving the alerts, the entire village shook as families deserted their homes carrying what they could.

The alerts also moved several structures such as Village Civil Protection Committee (VCPC), Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and the police into action as the ‘displaced families’ walked in procession to safety following routes marked by small white flags.

The route took the displaced families to Lungwena Primary School about two kilometers away from the headquarters of GVH Chapola, where MRCS pitched tents and took care of the ‘displaced’ people, most of whom were women and children.      

The mock floods exercise went further to the lake where the community’s Search and Rescue Team braved the swollen lake with their boats to search and rescue those who had been ‘washed away’.

“This is a very important exercise as it has helped us test the system,” said Vendemia. “We wanted to test how alert messages reach the families and how the families mobilize, what they carry with them and which route they take to safety.”

The project Manager said COOPI was generally satisfied with the whole exercise and how the community members and each of the structures and partners performed during the ‘flood disaster.’

“I am very satisfied especially with the component of the search and rescue team, and first aid,” she said, adding: “We have identified a few gaps of course which we are going to sit down and see how best we can address them but all in all, the whole exercise has been a success.”

Vendemia, therefore, hailed Mangochi District Council and partners such as MRCS, Concern World Wide and Mangochi Police Station for their support, which she said, made the entire exercise successful.

GVH Chapola hailed COOPI for the exercise, which he said, had strengthened their preparedness in disaster management, recalling with discomfort the 2015 experience when floods washed away homes, people, livestock and property.

“Through the project that COOPI is implementing in this area, we have undergone various trainings at various levels and this exercise today has enabled us to measure our capacity of managing disaster in line with what COOPI taught us,” the local leader said.

The exercise was covered by local and international media (Euro News) who captured the stampede both from ground and above using drone camera.

On Friday, COOPI conducted mapping of Lungwena area using drone cameras and according to the project manager, the community structures would be familiarized with the map and Google earth map of the same for further proper planning.

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