Malawi appeals for $500 million to repair flood damage

An aerial view taken on January 20, 2015 shows a flooded area at Makhanga in Malawi's most southern district of Nsanje (AFP Photo/Amos Gumulira)

Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Malawi needs nearly half a billion dollars to repair the damage from devastating floods that killed 176 people earlier this year, the southern African country's president said Thursday.

Crops were ravaged and infrastructure destroyed by the heavy January rains that affected one million people.

"I would like to appeal for international support in this recovery and reconstruction programme as $494 million is an enormous sum of money," President Peter Mutharika said.

He said Malawi -- one of the poorest countries in the world -- needed "critical thinking and re-direction" in the wake of the deadly floods.

Paul Chinangwa, of the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, said the rains cost the agriculture sector $65 million -- sweeping away 200,000 livestock, 520,000 houses and 1,000 kilometres of roads.

"The floods hit the poor hard and further pushed them into poverty," he said.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) administrator Helen Clark said the recovery plan was an opportunity to "increase public understanding of the risk of future flooding".

It was "unlikely that these will be the last floods or the last natural hazard to hit Malawi," she said.

In February, the World Meteorological Organization warned that Africa would experience more droughts, heatwaves and deadly floods in the future due to climate change.

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