Lilongwe, Malawi 16th November, 2022 (AEJ) – The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) has held wider consultations that will inform how the National Disaster Management Policy under review will be framed to accommodate emerging issues such as pandemics like Covid-19 and other diseases which have taken the country unawares in the recent times.
Malawi a land locked country has recently witnessed a series of disasters that are climate related in nature leading to floods and droughts. This has resulted in most people losing their lives and property in the process leading to insecure and famine-stricken households.
“In the past, disasters were not an issue but now when disasters strike, they affect every sector of development. That is why it is very important to have a good National Disaster Management (DRM) policy,” Reverend Moses Chimphepo, Director responsible for response and recovery at DODMA underscored a need for a robust and vibrant policy.
According to Chimphepo, Malawi is experiencing power outages because of Storm Ana that affected hydro power generation at Kapichira in the lower shore. This led to loss of about 130 megawatts of power. The situation has led to a series of power outages that we continue to experience as a country. All these is as a result of disasters.
Presenting his findings, Welton Phalira, co-partner at Sultana consultancy observed among key gaps that there is currently more response than preparedness in containing the vice. Phalira outlined priority areas in the revised policy that include understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk financing and governance, investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience and then finally enhanced disaster preparedness for effective response and to build back better in recovery.
However, reacting to the consultation process Stern Kita, UN Habitat National Program Manager applauded government for reaching out to various players as part of the policy review consolidation process.
Kita observed that although Malawi has several existing frameworks that the policy can be based on, these consultative processes are essential so that we hear from every group within the country and identify priorities that would indeed break cycle of disasters.
“The review of the DRM policy is long overdue, if we consider all the emerging issues and the increasing vulnerability and exposure of the country to multiple hazards. We have to align the policy to our national development blueprint, the Malawi 2063, the National Resilience Strategy, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, among several local and international instruments. As several stakeholders pointed out today, it is time we moved away from developing instruments, and start the implementation of resilience-building actions, which should be the primary focus of the new policy,” advised Kita in a separate interview after the consultation process.
There has been calls from non-state actors to have the disaster management bill to be tabled in parliament. The meeting attended by government, civil society groups and the media also raised concerns that the policy should have been crafted come after the DRM bill has been passed as law by parliament. In the current scenario, the policy is being revised after the bill has been drafted already and at an advanced stage.