LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-The country’s Civil Society Organisation Network on Climate Change (CISONECC) on Friday, July 31, 2020 challenged President Lazarus Chakwera on Tonse government’s clear agenda for climate change and disaster risk management.
The grouping observed that the two sectors including others; environment, forest, wildlife and natural resources management need much attention when implementing Tonse government agenda for the country.
Addressing the news conference in the capital Lilongwe, CISONECC’s National Coordinator Julius Ng’oma observed that the analysis done in 2018 by Irish Aid revealed that during the implementation period of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II (MGDSII), Climate Change, Natural Resources and Environmental management received the least financial allocation with less than 1% of national budget allocations between the years 2011/2012 and 2015/16.
Ng’oma said the low fund allocation to sectors is despite the increase in climate related disasters which resulted in citizens losing lives, compromised food security, right to education and potable water and shelter.
He therefore urged government to capitalize and operationalize the National Climate Change Management Fund which the Government of Malawi established in 2018 with proceeds collected from the Carbon Tax remitted directly support climate change action together with other direct budgetary allocations and not into Account number 1 as per initial arrangement.
Below is the full CISONECC statement to President Chakwera’s Tonse government:
Let me recognize the presence of the CISONECC Board Members here; CISONECC Thematic Working Group Leaders; CISONECC Members; Secretariat Colleagues; Our Partners; all Media houses present; Ladies and Gentlemen.
Firstly, let me thank our Board member for the elaborating CISONECC concerns.
I am here to present the CISONECC’s key recommendations to the President of the Republic of Malawi, His Excellency, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera for consideration as he takes the first steps on his position as leader of Malawi, as follows:
The President and his Government should clearly highlight to the Civil Society Network on Climate Change, all stakeholders in the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management and entire citizenry on the Ministries that will be handling the two sectors respectively.
We have noted that there is particularly lack of clarity on the Ministry responsible for Disaster Risk Management.
Lack of clarity on this issue may compromise stakeholder’s role on ensuring that the ministry discharges its duties in a transparency and accountable manner.
The President and his Government must understand that Climate Change is a human rights issue. As such, the Government must spearhead rights-based actions to support Climate Change Management. Evidently, over the years we have observed that impacts of Climate Change including Government’s actions and inactions have violated human rights.
Therefore, citizens have lost lives, there has been constant food insecurity, the right to education has been compromised, and rights to potable water and shelter have not been safeguarded.
CISONECC, therefore, call for the new Government to implement rights-based actions to support Climate Change Management in a manner that safeguards human rights for its citizens.
There is need for the integration of Climate Change and Climate Justice into national development planning. In the recent past, we have noted various developmental efforts ending poorly due to lack of inclusion of Climate Change and Climate Justice lens in in planning national level infrastructure development such as roads, bridges and public buildings.
There is need to strengthen sectoral funding to support Climate Change Adaptation initiatives in Malawi.
This will assist all sectors to respond to Climate Change at sectoral level and ensure that there is prior planning of any climate change or weather related events that may affect the various sectors.
There is need to increase budgetary allocations to the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management sector including the environment, forest, wildlife and natural resources Management Sectors.
These sectors are crucial in the adaptation and mitigation to climate change impacts in Malawi.
Experience has shown that issues of climate change and disaster risk management and environment and natural resources management in general have received some of the least budgetary allocations from the Malawi Government.
For instance, an analysis done by Irish Aid in 2018 showed that during the implementation period of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II (MGDSII), Climate Change, Natural Resources, and Environmental management as a priority area received the least financial allocation with less than 1% of national budget allocations between the years 2011/2012 and 2015/16.
However, despite this being the case, climate related disasters are on a rise. In the past 5 decades alone, the country experienced 19 major floods and 7 severe droughts, which clearly shows the need for Government to prioritize the sector.
There is need for the National Climate Change Management Fund, which the Government of Malawi is establishing since 2018 to be operationalized and capitalized.
We also noted that in 2019, the Government introduced the carbon tax, which directly links to climate change management in Malawi.
Ironically, we understand that the proceeds from the fund goes into Government Account Number one instead of being remitted into Climate Change Fund.
We call for the government to therefore, capitalize the National Climate Change Management Fund with proceeds collected from the Carbon Tax and from other direct budgetary allocations.
We would like also to request that the funds realized from Carbon Tax should directly support climate change action hence should not be remitted to Account number 1.
There is need to implement safeguarding strategies to ensure funds allocated to various sectors including from public or other sources should reach the vulnerable communities.
This will assist all stakeholders including government, civil society, development partners, as well as the private sector to reach out to the vulnerable with utmost accountability and transparency, therefore assisting the vulnerable to adapt and become resilient.
There is need for speedy finalization and enactment of the draft DRM Bill bearing in mind the gaps that Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) and other stakeholder have continued to highlight relating to Disaster Risk Management in the country.
There is need for the country to move from reactive approach regarding disaster management as advocated by the current 1991 Act to a proactive approach of Disaster Risk Management advocated by the draft DRM Bill if the country is to achieve national resilience to climate change and disaster risks.
There is need to serious and effectively roll-out the disaster risk financing strategy and ensure that large scale risk transfer mechanisms such as climate related weather insurance products are available and accessible to the most vulnerable populations through a subsidy programs in Malawi.
One way of enhancing the preparedness of Malawian communities to disaster risk is having effective risk transfer mechanism such as climate/weather related insurance in place.
However, most of the weather insurance initiatives that have been rolled out in the country either by Government or in collaboration with other stakeholders have ended in pilot phases as most vulnerable communities cannot afford to pay insurance premiums.
We recommend, therefore, that the government roll out a weather insurance subsidy program for the most vulnerable Malawians as a way of contributing to building the communities’ resilience to disaster risks.
There is need for Government to step up efforts of ensuring that wildlife and forestry resources are adequately protected through effective enforcement of available laws to address the issue of unsustainable exploitation of wildlife and forest resources.
All cases of unlawful exploitation of wildlife and forestry resources should be dealt with transparently and according to law.
This will ensure that Malawi sustains the much-needed biodiversity required for a robust tourism sector and mitigation to climate change and its impacts.
There is further need for Government and development partners to intensify sustainable social protection programmes that aim at building the resilience of communities from impacts of climate change but also enhance their livelihoods thereby minimizing dependency on natural resources, including forest and wildlife.
These social protection programs should deliberately target communities living in close proximity to protected areas such as National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and Forest Reserves.
The government should support strengthening and coordination among all relevant stakeholders in the implementation of environment, climate change and disaster risk management related intervention/projects as well as policies, strategies and plans to ensure that such initiatives should deliver positive and intended impacts to the communities.
The Government is being urged to play the leading role, and encourage the coordination of the stakeholders that are taking part in environment, climate change and disaster risk management.
Government should be committed to promotion of Renewable Energy Technologies and advancing decentralized renewable energy systems to ensure universal access to clean and sustainable energy to households in rural and urban areas in Malawi.
This will require the Government to put in place enabling environment that will catalase partnerships among Government, private sector and Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) that will enhance promotion of alternative energy technologies to charcoal in urban and peri-urban areas, which is a catalyst for environmental degradation and climate change and related disasters in Malawi.
Government should desist and completely abandon all fossil-based energy plans for Malawi and pursue clean decentralized renewable energy pathways e.g. wind, solar for a sustainable future.
This will be in line with the provisions of the Paris Agreement, which Malawi signed and ratified in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
This will also be in total agreement with the aspirations of the Malawi Renewable energy strategy and the Sustainable Development Goal 7 that seeks to increase access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
There is need to intensify mass awareness campaigns to citizens using local languages such as Chichewa, Tumbuka, Yao, Sena and Lomwe to ensure that Malawians have adequate and correct information of this disease and on their role in curbing the further spread of the virus.
We commend Government through the Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources for committing to enforce the Ban on Thin Plastics in Malawi.
Thank you all for your attention!