Vice-President Saulos Chilima has challenged contractors to erect strong and up-to-standard structures that can withstand disaster shocks.

The Vice President said sub-standard structures are one of the major factors contributing to threats to lives of innocent people when disasters strike.

Chilima expressed the sentiments at Makuta Primary School, Traditional Authority Kachenga in Balaka on Friday when he presented relief items to families affected by a storm that hit the area on January 8.

“Let me appeal to the district council that when awarding contracts, give them to contractors who have the expertise to erect strong structures that guarantee safety to people’s lives,” said the Vice-President who is also Minister responsible for Disaster Management Affairs.

On the disaster in Balaka, Chilima appealed to the affected households not to despair because government will not allow anyone to suffer under its watch.

He reminded people that climate change was a reality; hence, the need to adopt mitigating measures to its negative impact by, among others, dressing bare lands with new trees.

Chilima commended Balaka District Council for setting out to plant about seven million tree seedlings this year alone.

In December last year, President Peter Mutharika officially launched the National Tree Planting Season that runs from December 15 to April 15.

Malawi expects to plant 60 million tree seedlings during this season.

Speaking earlier, Balaka district commissioner (DC) Rodrick Mateauma thanked government for the timely response to the disaster.

Mateauma said 698 households were affected by the storm in various areas across the district.

Said the DC: “Apart from the storm, the district has also been faced with the problem of fall army worms whereby 19 000 hectares of maize has been affected.”

In recent weeks, many areas nationwide have been affected by natural disasters, including floods and storms that have displaced thousands of households.