Mexican President Nieto set to open World Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction - from Commitment to Action

Written by  Mathews Malata Jr.

President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, is today, Wednesday expected to officially open the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction with a core theme “from commitment to action”.

Nieto will lead 7 other heads of state and government from Africa and beyond, over 60 government ministers and about 5 thousand registered delegates from 176 countries being represented at the meeting in Cancun- Mexico.

Malawi is being represented by a delegation of four senior government officials led by the secretary to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Clement Chinthu Phiri. Others are Director in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs –DODMA James Chiusiwa, Alice Gwedeza head of Mapping Division in the Department of Survey, and Veronica Mango principal mitigation officer in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs.

Among other things the record gathering is expected to launch a global accountability mechanism which will help countries to measure reductions in loss of life, affected people, economic losses and infrastructure damage from 2020 to 2030 as stipulated global targets in the Sendai framework of action on disaster risk reduction which was adopted in 2015 in Sendai, Japan.

Amidst high expectations, head of the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction and UN’s Secretary General’s special representative on Disaster Risk Reduction Robert Glasser says time is now for world leaders to ensure that the Sendai framework is implemented at local level with clear strategies that will promote strong governance, action on climate, balanced urbanization and environmental protection.

In one of the sessions headlined "Understanding Risks" on Tuesday, one of Malawi’s delegates Alice Gwedeza highlighted efforts being done by the Malawi government in promoting DRR and challenges being experienced.

On risk assessment situation in Malawi Gwedeza says Malawi uses open data because the country has been struggling to do satellite mapping on time largely due to lack of resources and modern equipment. She says the Maps are very important in helping government assess risks and people affected for proper decision making.

“We need to move with time and allow the concept of technology transfer work. In this way we will greatly reduce the impact of disaster or prevent them from happening,” said Gwedeza.

And leader of delegation Clement Chinthu Phiri says apart from sharing experiences, Malawi is likely to learn on how other countries have progressed in operationalizing the Sendai framework on DRR. Phiri says among other things Malawi needs to have strong standards and laws which will support the development of resilient buildings and proper settlements.

The UNISDR says mortality rate linked to disasters has reduced but a lot needs to be done to sustain the gains and caution countries whose economies are heavily exposed to disasters.

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