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Flood survivors at Bangula camp. Malawi government officials say allowing campaign rallies at evacuation camps would put property of flood survivors at risk of being stolen. VOA

As Malawi gears-up for elections this month, candidates and voters say flooding from March’s Cyclone Idai has already negatively impacted the vote. Some registered voters living in evacuation camps lost voting registration certificates in the floodwaters while candidates say they can’t get their message to would-be supporters living in evacuation camps.

Mafulesi Khingi from Manjolo Village is among thousands of eligible voters still living in evacuation camps two months after Cyclone Idai. The tropical storm that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March flooded them out of their homes.


Khingi said the floodwaters also swept away her voter registration and those of six other family members. We had no time to rescue our voter certificates, she said, because the house was collapsing. The only thing they could do, says Khingi, was to run for their dear lives.

Not having a voter certificate means having to explain why to officials who then look-up registration at the polls before they can vote. While Malawi election authorities say it should not prevent voting, the extra step could deter voters, especially those who are not informed.


Flood survivors receiving donation of maize from world Food program in flood hit Chikwawa distrcit, Malawi. VOA

Cyclone Idai flooding killed 60 people in Malawi and displaced nearly 90,000 households in 15 districts. But it could also have an impact on the general elections held every five years. Gladys Ganda is a parliamentary candidate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Nsanje district.

She said Cyclone Idai’s displacement of people is preventing her from campaigning in affected areas. “In the sense that people are not in their homes. Some people are camping in various camps and obviously when you go to do campaign, you will not find people around that area and you also not allowed to campaign at the camps,” she said.

Ganda said not being allowed to campaign in the evacuation camps has made it difficult for candidates like her to promote their platforms. Bizel Bishop, a flood survivor at Bangula evacuation camp, agrees.

He said they are not properly getting the issues raised by the candidates because the candidates are not allowed to campaign at the camp. And returning home is also difficult, says Bishop, because there they have no food. They can only wait for the government to help their return home where they will be able to attend campaign rallies.


Accomodation is another challange at Bangula evacuation camp. VOA

Lusizi Nhlane is Commissioner for Malawi’s southern flood-hit Chikwawa district. He said allowing campaign rallies at evacuation camps would bring chaos as they are already too crowded. But Malawi’s Electoral Commission says banning campaign rallies at evacuation camps deprives the flood survivors of being informed voters. Sam Alufandika is the commission’s Chief Elections Officer.

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“As Malawi Electoral Commission we have not received this [complaint] officially but we will do our own investigation to find out why they are not allowed to go to the camps. Because everybody is supposed to be reached out. They have to know what these candidates are offering for them to have an informed choice on polling day and those who are affected by floods cannot be left out,” he said.

Malawi’s government has announced it will start closing the evacuation camps on May 14, just one week before elections. (VOA)


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Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences