Government says disaster risk management needs serious stock-taking & re-strategizing

Government has said that there is need to accept that the country has not done a good job and require to do better on issues of disaster risk management and that it needs serious stock-taking and re-strategizing.

Malawi’s Vice President Dr Saulos Chilima made the remarks Monday at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe during the official opening of a-two-day National Disaster Risk Management Platform Conference.

He said there are important questions that the conference needs to reflect on including why the country continues to have disasters every year, what is it that we are not doing or doing well as a country and what is it that we should do as a nation to break this cycle of disasters.

“As government, we appreciate the support that we get from the private sector in contributing to disaster risk management. Whenever the country experiences a disaster, the private sector is amongst the first to come in with support. However, I would like to request the private sector to also focus on supporting disaster risk reduction interventions,” said Chilima.

He said it is argued that a dollar spent on risk reduction, saves about 7 dollars in response. There is, therefore, need for us, as a country to invest more in disaster risk reduction and said it government’s hope that the private sector will rise to the challenge.

The VP said, as players and partners in disaster risk management, we seem not to be doing enough, for most of the people from the civil society and government, are tended to concentrate in certain geographical areas leaving other equally vulnerable areas unattended.

“At times, you have worked on the assumption that certain areas, due to their low risk rating, do not deserve attention. Very few organisations, if any, are currently working in urban areas to address urban risks and vulnerability, for example.

“And this is on the understanding or assumption that urban areas are considered disaster free zones. But is this certainly not correct. Even those of us responsible for managing these urban areas, seem not to consider them as disaster prone areas as there isn’t much that we are doing,” explained Chilima.

The Vice President said, “We allow people to settle in risky areas not meant for human habitation as if there are no land plans in the cities. If we were all serious about what we are supposed to be doing, we would not be talking of internally displaced people in Mzuzu and Karonga this year or Blantyre and Lilongwe in 2015.”

He said the flood disaster in Mzuzu and other areas should, therefore, be a wake-up call for disaster risk management stakeholders, city councils and everyone else so that we should start doing something to address urban risks and vulnerability.

Chilima therefore urged the city councils, to start ensuring that urban structure plans are adhered to through enforcement.

He then thanked the media for the pro-active approach when reporting on disaster issues and when invited they have always availed themselves to disseminate information to the public.

Mia Seppo, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Representatives of United Nations agencies said she was impressed by the invitation list to the Platform meeting; all key players have been invited.

She said the platform should not be just another check the box exercise and urged the participants to make sure none of them look back at the meeting as a lost opportunity when the rains starts and when, if predictions have it, those rains will threaten peoples’ lives and livelihoods.

Source: Malawi News Agency