MANGOCHI, Malawi, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The UN World Food Program (WFP) on Friday officially handed over four bailey bridges worth 9 million U.S. dollars to Malawi government to ease access to the country's communities in four districts.
The bridges (portable pre-fabricated steel) were installed in two districts in the south and two districts in the eastern region where WFP faced challenges providing humanitarian assistance when floods devastated the districts and washed away bridges in January 2015.
WFP Country Director to Malawi, Benoit Thiry, told journalists in Malawi's lakeshore district of Mangochi, where the official handover of the bridges took place, that the donation for the bailey bridges was made in kind by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) back in 2015 in the wake of the floods.
"Although road infrastructure is not the WFP's core business, it is very crucial to restore access to communities in the four districts," said Thiry.
The 2015 floods affected 15 districts of Malawi and they left at least 48 people dead, 70,000 homeless. According to the country's Roads Authority, over 300 meters of bridges were left almost impassable while 3,000 km of roads infrastructure were damaged.
Meanwhile, Malawi is facing dry spell and serious fall army worm infestation in some parts and there are fears of hunger as the country's staple cereal, maize, has been severely destroyed in the parts where the dry spells and the fall army worms are evident.
Thiry assured the Malawi government that the UN food agency would continue with its support to the southern African country for it to attain food and nutrition secure and resilient future as guided by the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development with emphasis on reaching zero hunger (SDG2).
"In the wake of the dry spell and infestation by fall army worms which are affecting some parts of the country including Mangochi, WFP alongside other UN agencies is working with relevant government ministries and departments to assess the damage and mitigate the impact," said Thiry.
Malawi government through Transport and Public Works Minister, Jappie Mhango, has hailed the WFP for the donation of the bailey bridges, saying they will allow communities that were cut off from each other to interface again.