UNDRR pledges more collaboration in reducing disaster losses in Malawi


By Mathews Malata Jr

GENEVA-The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) has pledged support to Malawi and other countries that experience devastation due to disasters.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori, said this on Wednesday minutes after opening the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva Switzerland.

She said the aftermath of cyclone Idai presents a case of serious challenges African countries still experience to reduce the impact of disasters hence the need to double the efforts.

“We remain deeply concerned with events that happened in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe and we fully commit to continue working with the governments of these countries on future interventions,” She said.

While making it clear that UNDRR will work with Malawi and other countries in building back better, Mizutori also spoke on the need of making sure that gains that were made are restored and prevent further damage in future.

“Now you have to look into the reconstruction and its not just reconstruction of the infrastructure but the reconstruction of the society because people have lost everything; children have lost the opportunity from education, health care and there are challenges we face in all this,” she said

Mizutori, therefore, pleaded for collective responsibility in building back better especially by asking governments to consider prioritising risk reduction investments through adequate financing using domestic resources. She also urged Malawi and other affected countries to share the lessons learnt from this year’s disaster across Africa and beyond.

“ We will work with you and again building back better as much as we can together, but I do feel that probably there are also lessons we can learn from there, lessons that nobody could have foreseen because from what I understand the communication methods were cut off quickly in Mozambique making it difficult for rescue teams to reach affected areas easily, the early warning system worked better in urban area but not in rural area, people in rural communities were not well-oriented well enough to respond to the situation.

“There are a lot of lessons we need to share across Africa and the world so that when the next cyclone hit, we should be able to save lives and avert such tragedies.” said Mizutori.

Her remarks connected well with Malawi’s statement delivered at meeting by the Director of Department of Disaster Management Affairs James Chiusiwa.

Chiusiwa reported that the March 2019 disasters affected about half of the country and led to a declaration of a state of disaster. The number of affected people stands at 868,900 people, displaced 87,000, killed 60 and injured 672. This according to Chiusiwa is a major set back for Malawi.

“Unfortunately, the floods have eroded some of the gains that we have made in disaster risk reduction, while also teaching us a number of important lessons.

“We have also been faced other challenges in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, including limited investment in risk reduction, limited risk assessment and monitoring mechanisms, limited awareness on risk reduction mechanisms across levels and inefficiencies in early warning systems,” said Chiusiwa.

Malawi Government has however assured the international community it remains committed to the domestication of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) a global blueprint for reducing disaster risk reduction agreed to in 2015.

Chiusiwa updated the gathering that Malawi has fully integrated the SFDRR in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III priority areas and efforts are underway to take involve local governments to actively champion other interventions.

“We have also supported local authorities, both urban and rural, to develop local-level DRR strategies aligned to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). Over the next five years, we will be supporting a number of local authorities to develop disaster risk management plans that are aligned to the SFDRR,” he said.

Malawi representativeMalawi has also developed the National Resilience Strategy (NRS) which also speaks to the SFDRR to help the country break the cycle of food and nutrition insecurity and humanitarian aid and ultimately, guide Malawi towards reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and achieving its own national development goals.

At present Malawi has finalised conducting the Post Disaster Needs Assesment (PDNA) which ascertains the extent of the damage and amount of money required for recovery.