The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has encouraged councils to plan and put in place measures to address impacts of disasters that might be experienced during the forthcoming rainy season.
The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) will soon be releasing the seasonal forecast which will inform the country what might be experienced during the season, in terms of rainfall.
At regional level, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat convened a Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) meeting and its outcome indicates that the bulk of the region is likely to receive normal to above-normal rainfall just like last season.
The predictions are for the period October-November-December 2022 and January-February-March 2023.
Speaking on Thursday in Blantyre when he opened a two-day orientation meeting organized for council officials from the south and eastern regions, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Charles Kalemba said that even though the down-scaled seasonal forecast for Malawi is not yet out, the meeting was organized to prepare the councils to plan and put in place measures to address possible impacts of disasters.
Kalemba said the seasonal forecast forms the basis for contingency planning for anticipated disasters during the season hence the need to prepare rather than being reactive.
He said that contingency plans will ensure that councils have prepositioned equipment, relief items and put in place well outlined coordination measures enabling them to respond to any disaster occurrence in the councils.
He said: “The contingency plan is envisaged to improve the quality of humanitarian response. The district contingency plan will also enhance effectiveness, appropriateness and timeliness of response to disasters.
“The other benefits of the plan are that it would further help as a tool for mobilizing resources, strengthening coordination through the sharing of roles and responsibilities as well as establishment of relationships with partners and stakeholders at local authority level.”
Representing Phalombe district council, Director of Planning and Development (DPD) Eric Kenamu commended DoDMA for the timely meeting saying it lessens the burden councils bear when disasters occur due to poor planning.
Kenamu said that the training was an eye opener to all councils as it will help them to prepare standardized contingency plans.
“If you compare the contingency plans, you will note that there has been no standardization in the way they are developed and in many cases hard for us to implement as most of the things included were not realistic. The training has challenged us to prepare only that which we can undertake for the well- being of the communities,” he said.
Kalemba then called upon all councils to reflect on the challenges and lessons learnt from implementation of last year’s contingency plans and come up with action points on how best they will implement the ones developed this year.
“The process that you will start today should not be considered as the end of the journey. Contingency planning is a process. As such, when you get back, you will need to sit down with other stakeholders, including NGOs to put together the realistic contingency plans. You will also have to finalize the plan once DCCMS releases the downscaled rainfall seasonal forecast,” said Kalemba.
Kalemba also informed the councils that President Dr Lazarus Chakwera
, as Minister responsible for disaster management affairs, has emphasized that DoDMA should be vigilant so that no one dies of hunger and that all disasters must be attended to effectively to make sure that loss of life and property is abetted.
In this regard he informed the councils that they should take it upon themselves to make sure that they are on the look out so that any adverse situation in their councils is assessed and reported accordingly.