Flood Devastation Forces Malawi to Cut Growth Forecast for 2015

Malawi’s growth in 2015 will fall short of the 5.8 percent projected at the beginning of the year because of the damage massive floods have caused to the country’s farming industry, said President Peter Mutharika.

“The damage caused by the flood disaster to the economy is estimated at 23.9 billion kwacha ($53 million), excluding the cost of the relief program currently underway,” Mutharika said Tuesday in his state of the nation address, broadcast from the capital, Lilongwe.

The annual tobacco crop is the largest export earner for Malawi, which relies on international aid for 40 percent of its budget. Agriculture, mining, electricity provision and water supplies have been severely disrupted by the floods, Mutharika said.

Waters have submerged 63,531 hectares of land, affecting 35,000 hectares of cropland and 116,000 farmers, according to Mutharika. He estimated that Malawi will require as much as 3.6 billion kwacha to replant crops.

Flood damage has shut 234 schools, while another 181 are acting as emergency refuges for displaced people, he said, adding that the disruption means 200,000 students are unable to attend classes.

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