Malawi is to benefit from a 10 billion Kwacha UN-Habitat Building Urban Climate Resilience in South-Eastern Africa pilot project targeting the four cities of Morondava in Madagascar, Zomba, Chokwe in Mozambique and Moroni. To run for four years the initiative was launched Tuesday via a 2-hour webinar session held in compliance with the Covid-19 travel and meeting restrictions.
The Adaptation Fund sponsored project will upgrade targeted infrastructure for Zomba city and strengthen disaster risk management structures at a national level to help the country become more resilient to disasters such as cyclones, floods, droughts and disease outbreaks currently on the increase both in terms of frequency and intensity.
In a follow-up interview after the webinar, National Project Manager Stern Kita disclosed Malawi will receive about 1.5 billion kwacha for the project to support among other things the establishment of a city-wide early warning system for floods through the Installation of automated water gauges and sirens in Mponda, Naisi, Mulunguzi and Likangala Rivers. The money will also be used for the construction of Multipurpose evacuation centres in Likangala, Chambo and Sadzi wards. Other crucial components of the project spotted in the project document include the rehabilitation of existing drainage channels and construction of new drainage channels linked to Likangala and the Mulunguzi River, improvement of solid waste management through the establishment of community waste management centres in Sadzi, Mtiya, Masongola and Chinamwali wards.
At the national level, besides training key staff in disaster risk reduction interventions, the project will bankroll the development of different policy documents including national guidelines for assessing climate change impacts and for climate-proofing infrastructure in urban areas in Malawi.
Speaking during the launch Director of Risk Reduction in the Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events James Chiusiwa said government is committed to building safe, green and resilient cities. Chiusiwa welcomed the program which according to him forms part of the first resilience interventions in semi and urban areas.
He said: “Addressing urban risks and vulnerabilities is of paramount importance for many reasons. We all know that investments, which form the key drivers of the economy are concentrated in urban areas. Key government and industrial infrastructure are also located in urban areas. Addressing urban and semi-urban risks and vulnerabilities should, therefore, be our key priority in this changing climate.”
Mayor for Zomba City Benson Bulla told the meeting disasters continue to negatively affect the city’s development activities and cited the poor drainage system and deforestation as key factors increasing the city’s vulnerability to climatic shocks. UN-Habitat Director of Global Solutions Division Raf Tuts, said his organisation is ready to support the four governments turn the important aspirations of the project into a reality for people whose safety, security, and livelihoods are affected.
He also called for new and innovative solutions as countries battle with the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“Today, countries and cities that are already cracking under the burden of multi-tiered hazards are pushed further to their limits due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. Cities now have to think about preparing for natural disasters with a coronavirus lens. This will require new and innovative approaches to disaster risk reduction, for example considering physical distancing and hygiene” said Tuts.
A post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report for the March 2019 Cylone Idai which affected nearly one million people and claimed 60 lives paged damage and losses at MWK172.6 billion while economic losses stood at MWK 7.8 billion or 0.13% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Malawi is a party to the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction whose targets 3 and 4 seek to reduce economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure and disruption basic services respectively at least by 2030.