Pres. Mutharika calls for lasting solutions to effects of natural disasters

Written by  Mustahab Ayami

Government plans to relocate and resettle all people living in flood-prone areas as a lasting solution to loss of lives and livelihoods due to natural disasters, President Arthur Peter Mutharika has said.

30
December


The Malawi leader said this in his statement titled “A Nation Resilient to Disasters” which discusses Malawi’s preparedness ahead of an impending warm phase termed as El Nino.


According to the seasonal weather forecast by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, the current rainy season is likely to be characterized by a strong El Nino which may cause heavy rains in some parts of the country and may cause drought in other parts of the country, mainly in the Shire Valley, and particularly towards the end of the rainy season.


“In order to ensure the safety of people who are frequently affected by flood disasters, government will, from next year, start the process of permanently resettling the people in safe areas.

 

In this respect, I urge traditional leaders to support district councils and the central government to identify land for relocation and play a leadership role in the actual process of resettlement,” reads part of the President’s statement in which the Malawi leader urges chiefs and traditional leaders to be in the forefront mobilizing their subjects for this necessary intervention.


President Mutharika also pointed out that other precautionary measures include a procurement of an insurance policy which goes hand in hand with government’s efforts to relocate residents away from prone areas. Government has procured a flood insurance policy from the African Risk Capacity Insurance Company Ltd.


Government also plans to tamper with river beds and banks as a way of mitigating the effects of fast-flowing water. As part of its long-term Disaster Risk Management and Resilience Programme, government will soon commence work on certain rivers to control them from flooding.

 

The work will involve excavation of sand from channels of some of the rivers, as a long term measure to control the flow of water from the rivers. The work will also involve construction of flood-mitigating infrastructure such as dikes, gabions, mattresses and sandbags and protecting vetiver banks through afforestation and planting of vetiver and elephant grass.


The President then urged communities to cooperate in excavating sand and debris from shallow rivers which usually flood during rainy season. He also called them upon to dig canals and clear debris even from drainages and canals.


Professor Mutharika also called upon all Malawians to get involved in reducing risks when it comes to disasters affecting their lives.


“Disaster risk management is not a choice; it is a must. It is an imperative which should be driven by lessons learnt from the country’s tragic experiences of disasters. As we all know, this country is largely exposed to hydro-meteorological hazards especially floods and drought as well as hailstorms, strong winds, landslides and water-related disease outbreaks. The intensity and frequency of these disasters has increased in recent decades due to climate change as well as environmental degradation, over-population and urbanization,” said Mutharika.


The President's remarks are mainly based on the disaster that befell Malawi early 2015 when floods affected 1.1 million people in 15 of the country’s 28 districts further killing 106 people with 172 reported missing. 230,000 people were also displaced by the floods.


In addition people’s property and public infrastructure valued at US$494 million and 64,000 hectares of crop fields throughout the country were destroyed. The combined effect of the floods and erratic rains caused the current food shortage which has seriously affected as many as 2.8 million people in the country.


President Mutharika assured Malawians that government is vigilant to ensure that they are taken care of in case of relocation, food and other important amenities during and after this rainy season.

Get Your Newsletter