Chiefs and faith based leaders drilled in disaster response in Salima

National Social Mobilisation Committee (NSMC) conducted a training in Salima for local chiefs and faith-based leaders on disaster response and preparedness.

Speaking during the training on Thursday at Senior Chief Kalonga's Headquarters in Salima, a representative of the Relief, and Rehabilitation Officer at the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) in Salima, John Saini said Salima is a disaster-prone district.

He, therefore, said chiefs and faith-based leaders being custodians of the people, need to be equipped with knowledge on how to handle people during disasters.

Saini said the type of approach that NSMC has taken is one of a kind because they are raising awareness on a number of topical and health-related issues that pose as challenges during disasters.

“Apart from losing their property, flood victims are faced with different problems during camping and there's a need to prepare them on how to overcome them before it's time," he said.

Saini: leaders are custodians of the people

He said having chiefs and faith-based leaders in one place was an opportunity for them to also map out a way forward on how they can tackle challenges that affect disaster victims.

Communication for Development Officer at the Ministry of Information Wallace Chipeta, concurred with Saini about the fact that during disasters people need assistance from all angles.

Chipeta said, for example, in camps people are prone to diseases and abuse because they are vulnerable, therefore Social Behaviour Change messages are important too for disaster preparedness.

"We have professionally crafted messages on health issues, hygiene, gender-based violence prevention, and education," he said.

He added: "Apart from distribution of the messages to chiefs and traditional leaders a brochure containing all the messages will be distributed to people in disaster-prone areas across the country."

Senior Group Village Headman Kalonga hailed the committee for drilling them on the issues that affect victims at various disaster camps.

“We are so grateful for the training, it has really acted as an eye-opener to us and we will deliver the message to our subjects in various communities,” said Karonga.

Senior Group Kalonga: We welcome the initiative 

He said his area was affected by floods earlier this year and most of the messages are practically what was being experienced in camps.

At this point, he said as leaders they will raise awareness in their communities using the messages they have been given by the NSMC.

The training was funded by UNICEF through NSMC, whose secretariat is the Ministry of Information.