The UN World Food Program (WFP) on 26 January officially handed over five bailey bridges to the Government of Malawi to ease access to the country’s communities in four districts.
The bridges (portable pre-fabricated steel) were installed in Zomba, Phalombe, Thyolo and Mangochi districts where WFP faced challenges providing humanitarian assistance when floods devastated the districts and washed away bridges in January 2015.
Speaking in Mangochi district when he officially handed over the bridges, WFP Country Director to Malawi, Benoit Thiry, said 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
“WFP was obligated to donate these bridges in the four districts because of the challenges we faced in 2015 in reaching out to the people affected by floods with food assistance. The bridges will help humanitarian actors to access the communities with assistance during turbulent times,” said Mr. Thiry.
Following the unprecedented floods in 2015 and during the 2016/2017 emergency response, due to damaged bridges, WFP had to deliver food assistance to the affected communities in the four districts by boats and helicopters which delayed deliveries and costed more. As of now WFP trucks can now reach the communities to bring life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities
The Government of Malawi, through Transport and Public Works Minister, Jappie Mhango, hailed WFP for the donation of the bailey bridges, saying they will allow communities that were cut off from each other to interface again.
“The bridges will accord farmers a chance to take their produce to markets as well as help the communities to easily access social amenities such as hospitals, schools, among others,” said Mhango.
The bailey bridges were donated by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and the World Bank provided funds for construction in support of Malawi’s Ministry of Transport and Public Works. The bridges were installed in some parts of the four districts affected by floods where WFP delivered humanitarian assistance.