Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Michael Usi said whilst Malawi has broadened the task of mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management (DRM) into its national frameworks, there is need for more concerted efforts among partners in order to improve the country’s disaster risk reduction and response.
The minister said this on Thursday, May 18, 2023 when he delivered a statement at the UN headquarters in New York, USA, during the high level meeting of the Sendai Framework of the Disaster Risk Reduction Mid-term Review. The theme for this year’s plenary is “Charting liveable pathways for Humans and Nature”.
Usi said his statement is aligned to other statements delivered by representatives from countries like Cuba on behalf of G77 and China, Nepal on behalf of the Least Developed Countries as well as Botswana on behalf of the Landlocked Developing Countries.
He said natural disasters in Malawi have had enormous impacts on different development sectors, such as agriculture, education, infrastructure, housing, food, energy, health, water, and other sectors of the country’s economy.
“Your Excellencies, recurrent disasters in Malawi have had far-reaching impacts on various development sectors, such as agriculture, education, infrastructure, housing, food, energy, health, water, and other sectors of the country’s economy.
“More than 25 disasters associated with severe rainfall events like floods, landslides, and storms have occurred in the last decade alone, exhibiting an incremental upward tendency in terms of the number of people affected,” he said.
He added that most recently, Malawi has been hit by Tropical Cyclone Freddy in a disaster that will take time to recover from. He said the sad thing is that the cyclone disaster came during the time the country was also dealing with the worst Cholera outbreak in many years as well as high food insecurity.
Said Usi: “Most recently, Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi while it was facing one of the worst Cholera Outbreaks in recent history and high food insecurity at the peak of the lean season. More than 50,000 cholera cases and 1,700 cholera-related deaths had been reported in Malawi. And even though a decline in cholera cases has been observed, the situation is likely to worsen because of the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Freddy.
“Additionally, 3.8 million people were facing acute food insecurity and Cyclone Freddy has worsened the situation. I said more than 50,000 cholera cases and 1,700 cholera-related deaths had been reported in Malawi. That Cyclone Freddy has just worsened the situation.”
The minister, however, said despite this glim reality and obvious challenges, Malawi is taking positive steps towards resilience and adaptation to climate change as a way of stemming off these impacts.
“Allow me to share some key enablers, areas of progress, successes, and good practices. The Government of Malawi has made significant strides by mainstreaming DRM into Malawi National development plans and programs. The Malawi 2063 Implementation Plan recognizes ‘Improved disaster risk reduction and response’ as one of the key outcomes of addressing adverse climate effects.
This will contribute to ensuring the well-being of Malawians and the protection of its national assets from disasters. I also shared that the government of Malawi has made significant progress in mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management into national frameworks and national development plans,” said Usi.
He also said the management of disasters and climate change effects is not and should not be the responsibility of a single organization of the government but that it must be the responsibility of every organization at all levels, both within and outside the government, which is in line with what the Sendai Framework describes as the “all-of-society and all-of-State” approach.
Added Usi: “I am pleased to inform this meeting that Malawi has created an enabling policy environment for Disaster Risk Management with strategic policy and legal instruments in place. These successes, however, did not come without challenges. Allow me to share some of the challenges: Limited utilization of technology on DRM and Climate Change; Limited capability in technology for early warning and early action and Inadequate disaster and climate financing.”
Working in partnerships
The Minister called upon nations and institutions both in the public and private sectors across the globe to act in solidarity through partnerships that must be created, strengthened, and consolidated for risk-informed decision-making.
He thanked various partners across the globe for the overwhelming support they rendered to Malawi, and for the swift response to the devastating impact of Cyclone Freddy adding that it is testimony of the importance of such partnerships
“We have also learnt that peaceful co-existence with neighbouring countries is a social investment. Our neighbours – Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe – came to our rescue with prompt support,” added Usi.