LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-About 1, 043,000 people are said to in dare need of food support in the country for 2017 and 2018 growing season according to a report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC), The Maravi Post has learnt.

This a decline from the 2016/2017 growing season where by the same MVAC said about six million were in need of food that ended up Zambia maize gate.

Subsequently, the former minister of agriculture George Chaponda is answering fraud charges on how maize was procured from Zambia.

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) on Tuesday told the news conference that affected families will provided with food as resources are available from government confers and development partners.

DoDMA Principal Secretary Clement Chinthu Phiri said the figure of people affected by the food insecurity situation is relatively on the lower side if we compared the figures with last financial year (2016/17) that in collaboration with its development partners developed a response plan worth US$34.89 million to respond.

Phiri was briefing the media on the status qua of disaster and management for 2017/2018 financial year. So below in the full statement;

DISASTERS AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE 2017/18 FINANCIAL YEAR

It gives me the honour to update you on the status of disasters and management for the 2017/18 financial year.

Since 12 October 2017, disasters which range from flash floods to hailstorms, have struck in 22 local authorities (19 districts, two cities and one municipal of the country).

In the Central Region, disasters have hit Mchinji, Lilongwe, Dedza, Dowa, Ntcheu, Salima, Kasungu and Nkhotakota.

The Southern Region has Mulanje, Mwanza, Phalombe, Machinga, Mangochi, Chiradzulu and Zomba as the affected districts whereas four districts in the Northern Region, namely; Chitipa, Karonga, Rumphi and Nkhata Bay. Lilongwe and Mzuzu Cities have also been affected whereas Kasungu Municipality has not been spared by the tragedies.

The impact of the disasters include loss of lives, injuries, damage to houses and property as well as destruction of crop fields and infrastructure.

A total of 14 deaths [seven in Lilongwe, three in Dedza, two in Nkhotakota one in Machinga and Zomba] and 88 injuries have been recorded as of January 9, 2018. A cumulative total of 8,671 households, which is approximately 47,691 people, have been affected.

The Department is coordinating the provision of relief assistance to the affected households.

So far, 8, 110 households have been reached with assistance. The Department is making arrangements to provide assistance to the remaining areas.

However, the Department would like to set the record straight that Government, led by the presidency, is committed to ensuring that all affected households and people get the much needed assistance.

This has been greatly demonstrated by the Minister responsible, the Right Honourable Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima’s visit of disaster affected areas in Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Rumphi and Kasungu, among other areas, as well as the distribution of relief items to almost all the 20 affected districts.

Each affected family gets a 50 kg bag of maize, four cups, five plates, salt and two blankets and plastic sheets to assist them to cope up as they recover from the tragedy.

PREPARATION FOR LOOMING DISASTERS

Members of the press, you may wish to appreciate that disasters are natural occurrences and it is almost impossible to fully prepare for them, however, we have made tremendous progress in as far as preparations for disasters are concerned. In terms of preparing for looming disasters, the Department is prepositioning and stockpiling relief items in strategic places.

The relief items include food, blankets, kitchen utensils and plastic sheets. So far, we have stocks prepositioned and stockpiled in Lilongwe, Ntcheu and Blantyre Districts and this is an on-going process, meaning more strategic places will have items prepositioned and stockpiled.

The Department also developed contingency plans with district officers and councils to facilitate timely response and effective coordination during disaster response during the season. Plans are also in progress to develop disaster management plans specific for urban areas, (City Councils).

Plans are also at an advanced stage to preposition search and rescue personnel and equipment. The equipment include, vehicles, boats, and helicopters. This will be done with the assistance of the security agents in the land, namely: the Malawi Defence Force and the Malawi Police Service.

The Department, with funds from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Chinese Government, under the Small Grants Scheme (SGS) Project has constructed evacuation centres/safe havens in flood-prone districts of Mangochi, Karonga, Nsanje and Salima so as to cushion the suffering that goes with displacements as a result of the disasters.

FUNDS FOR DISASTER RESPONSE AND RECOVERY

In terms of financial resources, Government allocated Mk 1.2 billion for disaster response operations during the 2017/2018 fiscal year budget and we have planned to make use of the financial resources and respond to disaster impact.

DISASTER RISK REDUCTION

We are working with various partners to build the resilience of communities to disasters across the country. In partnership with UNDP, under the Small Grants Scheme that provides support to communities to implement disaster risk reduction projects, we are constructing flood mitigation works in Chikwawa and Mangochi as well as safe havens in Mangochi, Nsanje, Karonga and Salima.

We will continue with these programmes this year to reach more vulnerable communities. We are implementing a number of flood mitigation works in Nsanje and Chikwawa under the Shire River Basin Management Programme.

We are also working with City and Municipal Councils to ensure that we build resilience to disasters in urban areas. We will be supporting them to develop disaster risk management plans, establish civil protection committees and provide support to the cities of Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu to implement small-scale disaster risk reduction interventions.

Members of the Press, the Department, in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, is also working on disseminating safer housing and construction guidelines to local artisans and communities. The guidelines were developed in consultation with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. The idea is to have durable and strong houses that can withstand the impact of disasters.

In addition, under the 6-year- US$ 16, 264, 545 Scaling up the use of Modernized Climate Information and Early Warning Systems (M-CLIMES Project), with funds from the Green Climate Fund and the UNDP, the Department is working on expanding networks that generate climate-related data to save lives and safeguard livelihoods from extreme climate events, development and dissemination of products and platforms for climate-related information/services for vulnerable communities and livelihoods; and strengthening communities’ capacities for use of early warning systems and climate information in preparedness for response to climate related disasters, among others.

FALL ARMYWORM AND CHOLERA

Members of the press, it is an open secret that fall armyworms pose a great threat to the livelihoods of many Malawians who depend on Agriculture. Since their influx in the country in November last year, the Fall Armyworms have affected over 140,000 farming families in 20 districts across the country. His Excellency President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika declared a ‘state of disaster’ in the affected areas.

Since the declaration, a lot of stakeholders have been coming in to counter the situation. We hope that we will be able to salvage some crops having a good working relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, the donor community and all stakeholders.

As for the Cholera outbreak which has affected Karonga, Nkhata Bay, Dowa, Kasungu and Lilongwe City, our colleagues from the Ministry of Health, are working tirelessly with assistance from various stakeholders, in preventing further spread and providing necessary medication and sensitising the masses on the outbreak.

LEAN SEASON FOOD INSECURITY RESPONSE PLAN

Members of the Press, I would be doing great injustice to the country if I finished off the briefing without mentioning the status and progress on the 2017/18 Lean Season Food Response Plan which was launched last month in Nsanje district.

According to a report by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) a total of 1, 043,000 people have been affected by the food insecurity situation. This is relatively on the lower side if we compared the figures with last financial year (2016/17) in which over 6 million people were affected.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), in collaboration with its development partners developed a response plan worth $34.89 million.

Of the funds required to implement the plan, a total of US$12,361,617 has so far been mobilized from development partners as follows: ( WFP has mobilised US$4,878,136 from DFID through the Shock Response Window and also added balance from twinning of the Strategic Grain Reserve maize from the Government of Malawi for the 2016/2017 season; ( International NGOs have secured US$7,029,784 from DFID and Irish AID. Out of that US$2,600,000 is supporting resilience building initiatives such as conditional cash transfers, productive asset creation in 10 districts of Karonga, Dedza, Salima, Mulanje, Phalombe, Nsanje, Chikwawa, Machinga, Mangochi and Balaka; ( USAID has supported WFP with a total of US$333,697 which will cover food deficit in Machinga district; ( UNICEF has reprogrammed US$120,000 from the Living School Yard Transformation Project which is supported by Roche Pharmaceuticals. This support goes to Education Cluster; ( Government of the People’s Republic of China has supported with 3,270 metric tons of rice.

Kindly note that Government of the Republic of Malawi, through the Ministry of Finance, will also come in to reduce ‘the arrears,’ as some development partners are finalising efforts to provide the much needed support.

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