Lilongwe, October 14, Mana: Malawi on Wednesday joined the rest of the world in cerebrating International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) with a call for stakeholders to invest in disaster reduction, resilience and in long lasting solutions to disasters.
Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs in the Department of Disaster and Management Affairs (DoDMA) Charles Kalemba, made the call in Lilongwe during the IDDR commemorations held under the theme “International Cooperation for Disaster Resilient Malawi”.
He said it is high time the country moves away from a passive to a more proactive approach in handling disaster affairs.
According to statistics, in the last five years, total loses and damages arising from disasters have been estimated at US$921 million, while recovery and reconstruction needs amounted to US$1.4 billion.
“We have been spending a lot of money in waiting for disasters to happen and then initiate responses. But what we are emphasizing now is that we should put in place measures for us to know beforehand what potential disasters we may face, try to avoid them and/or mitigate their impacts.
“When it comes to issues of response, we should be able to respond in a timely manner. When it is recovery, we should look at other ways of building back better and provide long lasting solutions. Only through this, we are going to save a lot of lives, infrastructures and money as well, he said.
The Commissioner said they are already engaging district councils on this year projected weather outlook for planning purposes.
Kalemba also revealed that government is reviewing the 1991 Disaster Management Act which will enable the Department to further focus at reduction of disaster occurrence than response.
This, he also said, will help government and stakeholders to be on the same page in handling disaster affairs in the country.
“The proposed legal frameworks, our policies and actions plans will also help us in guiding our partners willing to help us in aligning their interventions with what we have designed in the Malawi 2063 agenda as our roadmap.
“We do not want a situation where we want something, and our stakeholders are doing something else. This can only be achieved if we have a plan like the 2063 agenda” he said.
One of the main activities on the day was a panel discussion held by representatives from partners like UNDP, Malawi Red Cross Society, Lilongwe City Council, The lead of International Organization’s – Save the Children and DoDMA.
In his remarks, Sothini Nyirenda, UNDP Programme Analyst of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction said there are growing collaborations between stakeholders in terms of recovery and response, but with the latter getting much attention.
As such, he called for more attention to be paid in disaster reduction.
“What we have seen is that we would wait for disasters to happen and then we act. But we would love to have more partnerships in risk reduction so that we would be able to protect people from the various hazards that come with disasters,” he said.
Chisomo Teputepu, Acting Head of Disaster Management for Malawi Red Cross Society alluded to the fact that government on its own faces challenges with resources to deal with disaster affairs.
He committed that in their capacity, his organization and other stakeholders will continue to help government with various interventions in order to respond to and reduce disasters in Malawi, for the betterment of her people’s livelihoods.