Malawians must start thinking of making climate-smart undertakings a way of everyone’s life—President Chakwera

* The aerial outlook of the Lower Shire’s large swathes of land covered in flood waters is a sorry sight

* And has given me a more accurate perspective regarding the level of damage to the ecosystem and livelihoods

* The aftermath will demand from us a candid discussion on the country’s climate change management and adaptation strategies

By Duncan Mlanjira

While applauding all stakeholders for offering preliminary support in form of relief items and services to floods affected communities, President Lazarus Chakwera is asking the citizenry to “start thinking of making climate-smart undertakings a way of everyone’s life”.


This the message for life after comforting and relieving survivors of the Cyclone Freddy-induced flash floods as part of Chakwera’s #OperationTigwiraneManja#

He wrote on his Facebook wall that on trip to assess damage on Friday in Mulanje, Phalombe and Zomba, it dawned on him that “the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy will demand from us a candid discussion on the country’s climate change management and adaptation strategies”.

“What caught my attention is that, unlike other areas where the storm has affected the land mass, in Zomba the country’s second largest water reservoir — Lake Chilwa — has transitioned from perennial droughts to too much water within days.

“This has put a strain on a whole blue economy that supports close to 1.5 million people. To have too much water destroy what is supposed to be a water body is probably the rarest irony anyone can think of.”

A day earlier, Chakwera posted that he had an opportunity for a panoramic view of Nsanje District from a helicopter to appreciate the effects in the Lower Shire.

“The aerial outlook of large swathes of land covered in flood waters is a sorry sight and has given me a more accurate perspective regarding the level of damage to the ecosystem and livelihoods.

“Despite being a perennial flood-prone area, the district has this time around encountered more widespread damage evidenced by swelling numbers of displaced people in shelter camps.


“I encouraged the displaced not to lose hope. Their government has gone flat out to alleviate their problems through provision of shelter, a range of relief items and other critical services.

“I am glad to note that some of them are ready to be relocated to upper and safe lands once our recovery plan is underway. We will not rest up until every missing person is accounted for and every displaced is rehabilitated back to normal life.”

On its Facebook page where Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) posts its updates on relief efforts, it was reported that people from the disaster prone area of  Group Village Headman (GBV) Mpomba, Traditional Authority (T/A) Malemia in Nsanje, who — for a longer time have been reluctant to to relocate to safer places — have called on government to have them relocated.

The report said the village has been completely washed away by the tropical storm-induced floods “but thank goodness, they took heed of the early warning messages disseminated prior to the cyclone’s landfall in Malawi”.

It quotes camp manager, Richard Malunga as reporting that the survivors are currently camping in Kafumbe village GVH Mthukuso — saying the community is affected by disasters year in, year out.

Malunga then reported that the community has now decided to relocate and make their place a farming area only.

“Our lives have been spared every rainy season,” he is quoted as saying. “We were hesitant of moving from the area with the hope that the rains will normalise but we have seen it getting worse hence our decision to relocate.”

Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba is quoted to have said he welcomes the idea adding that all villages in flood prone areas should emulate the decision.

Kalemba said government is ready to assist councils in the relocation process so that lives and property are saved.

Nsanje registered 52,000 affected households and currently, 32,000 are in 62 camps set in the district.

Meanwhile, the international community continue to assist the country in the relief and recovery process with Republic of Botswana has donated 21 tons of assorted relief items,

A report on DoDMA Facebook page said the consignment was handed over by Botswana’s assistant Minister for State President, Dumezweni  Mthimkhulu, who is quoted as saying the assistance is a sign of a cordial relationship between the two countries.

“Our Ministers came to do the assessment and this donation is in response to that. We are aware of the needs of the affected people,” he said.

The Chinese Community in Malawi donated cash and assorted relief items amounting to K75 million, that includes 1,000 bags of maize, 50 bags of maize flour, 40 bags of sugar and 30 cartons of soap.

From the K75 million, a cheque of K30 million was handed over to President Chakwera at the State House, under the #OperationTigwiraneManja# banner.

In the spirit of One United Nations, UN Women has assisted K29 million worth of relief package DoDMA and its Country Representative, Letty Chiwara is quoted as saying: “DoDMA and humanitarian partners are working tirelessly in reaching out to the affected.

“I thank everyone who has stretched a helping hand and I would like to call on others to come forward with whatever they have and donate. Every little thing counts and can save lives,” she said.

The package included blankets, buckets, hygiene kits, maize flour, soap, wrappers, which are in short supply in camps, as said by DoDMA’s director of disaster recovery & resilience, Peter Chimangeni.

Local industry players also continue to heed President Chakwera’s #OperationTigwiraneManja# as Cement Products Limited and Zagaf Transport have assisted with K20 million.

The cheque was presented to DoDMA on behalf of Aslam Abdul Gaffar, who is chairman and Chief Executive Officer, by the Company’s Group Financial Controller, Dr Hilton Chakhaza, who reported that “Gaffar is a compassionate and selfless businessperson”, who — when he heard of the tragedy “was moved to lend a helping hand especially that he is observing the month of Ramadan.

“His love for people moved him to make this donation hoping that it will help cushion the challenges people in the camps are going through,” Chakhaza is quoted as saying.

Receiving the donation, DoDMA’s chief disaster preparedness officer, Natasha Mbengo indicated that the funds would go towards procurement of tents and other households needs so that we decongest the camps and allow school classes to resume.

The solar lamps

The Malawi Engineering Institution assisted with 50 solar lamps worth K1 million, which are in great need towards assisting in survivors protection.

DoDMA’s Director Chimangeni commended the engineers, saying the lamps will enhance security in camps which are hosting over 500,000 people.

CFAO Motors Limited extended a helping hand through a donation of K100 million and the company’s Country Director, Ian Howden conveyed his heartfelt condolences to President Chakwera and the affected people for the loss of lives, saying the tragedy has affected people they work and do business with — hence their support.

“It is so sad to hear of the numbers of people affected in different ways. We hope that our donation will make a difference as government continues to respond to the needs of the affected.”

DoDMA continues to remind the public, development partners and all stakeholders that affected people in clusters (sector working groups), require various relief items such as:

* Shelter (tarpaulin (4x6m), family tents/big tents; plastic sheet (120 micron), blankets, sleeping mats);

* Protection (clothes, lighting lamps, dignity kits);

* Heath (mosquito nets, mobile clinic services;

* Non-food items (plates, cups, pots);

* WASH (mobile toilets, water treatment chemicals, soap, buckets);

* Food & nutrition (maize/maize flour); corn soya blend, ready to use therapeutic food, cooking oil, pulses (beans, peas etc), soya pieces dry fish/kapenta, sugar, salt).

DoDMA’s Director, Chimangeni says government alone would not manage to meet all the needs of the affected people and greatly appreciates the swift support from all corners of the world through #OperationTigwiraneManja#