Malawi presents disaster case at world forum; cost of 2015 floods at MK249billion

Written by  By Mathews Malata Jr, Cancun-Mexico

Malawi, through the Secretary to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Clement Chinthu Phiri appraised the world meeting on disaster risk reduction taking place in Cancun, Mexico on efforts being made to reduce disaster risks.

Clement Chinthu Phiri: Secretary to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Clement Chinthu Phiri: Secretary to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs

Common disasters in Malawi include droughts, floods, stormy rains, hailstorms, disease outbreaks and earthquakes.

Phiri told the gathering that Malawi like most other countries continues to lose people, property and infrastructure to disasters.

“For instance, in 2015, Malawi experienced floods which were the worst in living memory. A total of 106 people lost their lives, 172 were reported missing and 230,000 households were displaced in 15 of the 28 districts of the country,” said Phiri.

He went on to highlight that 1.1 million people were affected by the floods whose losses are estimated at MK249bn or $335 million. According to Phiri, a post disaster needs assessment –PDNA also revealed that Malawi needs not less than MK368bn in order to reconstruct and return on a path to recovery.

He then reported that in 2016 Malawi struggled to recover due to and El Nino-induced drought which affected 6.7 million people in the country.

Commitment to Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction

“Let me reiterate that Malawi is fully committed to the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and has since started the process of domesticating the framework. So far, we have developed an action plan which stipulates how we intend to implement the framework. After this Global Platform, we plan to validate the action plan and develop national targets,” said Phiri.

On interventions being done in order to understand disaster risks, he said Malawi is currently developing  community maps that show areas at risk of floods and other disasters which are useful for planning and implementation of preparedness, risk reduction, response and recovery interventions.

He shared that so far, maps for seven out of 28 districts in the country have been produced adding the plan is to cover the whole country.

“We have also developed a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) sourcebook for primary school and a process is underway to develop one for secondary school. As a way of strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risks, Malawi has integrated DRM into selected sectoral plans and policies including district development plans at local level,” he said.

The gathering also got an update that Malawi is currently reviewing the Disaster Preparedness and Relief Act (1991) to develop a DRM Bill.

It was also learnt that the National DRM Platform, a multi sectoral platform where all DRM stakeholders from national and local level meet to share knowledge, ideas and best practices in DRM was established in 2013 and is functional.

One specific initiative being carried out Phiri said local communities are given small grants to implement interventions at their level and that so far 20 communities have benefitted by developing shelters for evacuation and rehabilitation of small scale irrigation schemes.

He then expressed optimism that with a Malawi National Disaster Recovery Framework in place, implementation of recovery interventions will be strategic and effective.

The meeting will close on Friday.

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