Malawi has emphasised on the need for Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to invest in actions which will make the region resilient to disasters by among others, investing in early warning systems which will reduce disaster losses.
This year alone, the region has experienced cyclones that brought excessive torrential rains and flooding in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, resulting in loss of lives and livelihoods; and destruction to infrastructure.
Speaking in Lilongwe when he officially opened a one-day SADC meeting of ministers responsible for Disaster Risk Management (DRM), Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe said it was high time the region strengthened its early warning systems as disasters are impeding the region’s socio-economic development.
“We find ourselves in very challenging times when disaster events are becoming the order of the day in the SADC Region.
“All forms of disasters derail and compromise development gains that the region has made over the past few decades. Notably, the resources dedicated to disaster response and recovery are increasing from one event to another,” said Lowe.
Lowe further said that the nature of disasters that the region is experiencing is becoming increasingly diverse, and the frequency is increasing while the impacts become more severe.
He added that the occurrences challenge the region to reflect and strengthen investments on multi-hazard early warning systems for early action so that Member States can keep track of all the various disaster risks that the region is exposed to.
He said: “We have been implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for the past seven years, and we are left with only eight more years of implementing this framework. As a region, we need to show tangible results.”
In his remarks, SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Regional Integration Thembinkosi Mhlongo concurred with Lowe, saying disasters hamper progress and continue to plunge many into deeper poverty.
“Let me call upon all Member States to continue to mobilise efforts towards reducing the vulnerabilities that our communities continue to face through among others, the building of resilience of our communities.
“In a few months, we will be approaching the next tropical cyclone season. I call upon Member States to work with the Secretariat to ensure preparedness and put in place the necessary measures to ensure readiness and prompt responses to these events,” said Mhlongo.
Among others, ministers have approved an allocation of US$ 1.23 Million to be contributed by Member States upon approval by the council. The funds will be used to support member states to implement some DRM interventions.
The meeting has also agreed on need to fast track the operationalization of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre in Mozambique which is aimed at coordinating humanitarian and emergency support to Member States affected by disasters within the region.