The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has trained communities in Phalombe, Zomba and Chikwawa in camp management and coordination.
The trained communities will be managing newly constructed evacuation centres in their respective districts and were drawn from members of the Area Civil Protection Committees (ACPCs), which are local structures involved in the implementation of disaster risk management (DRM) programmes at traditional authority level.
The communities have been trained in disaster risk management cycle, camp setting and closing, roles and responsibilities of camp managers, protection of displaced people, human rights safeguarding, protection of the vulnerable and information management.
DoDMA’s Principal Relief and Rehabilitation Officer, Natasha Mbengo, said the training was aimed at equipping communities with knowledge on camp management, for smooth operation of the evacuation centres and maintaining dignity of the displaced people.
Mbengo then called on the communities to ensure that the vulnerable are prioritised in running the centres.
“As managers, it is of paramount importance that you safeguard the rights of any displaced person and pay particular attention to the vulnerable. Children, people with disabilities, the elderly, women and the chronically ill are particularly vulnerable.
“As such, I urge you all to establish sub committees to be looking into issues of protection, human rights, education and health, among others, to ensure that no right is violated and that no one should take advantage of the displaced,” said Mbengo, adding that the training will extend to Mangochi and Balaka Districts where similar evacuation centres have been constructed.
Mbengo further called on the communities to jealously guard the structures, saying they will serve as safe havens in case of displacement.
Chairperson of Jenala ACPC in T/A Jenala, Phalombe, Samson Nakhonyo, described the training as an eye opener and a right step towards ensuring the sustainability of the constructed centres.
“We will develop our own constitution as a committee and most importantly, we will devise ways of generating income for the maintenance of the structures and implementation of disaster risk reduction programmes in our communities,” said Nakhonyo, adding that safeguarding human rights of the displaced will not be compromised.
DoDMA recently constructed five evacuation centres [places designed to host displaced populations from any type of disasters] in five districts of Chikwawa, Balaka, Phalombe, Zomba and Mangochi, with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), formerly known as the Department for International Development (DFID).
The five flood-prone districts were amongst the worst hit during the March 2019 Cyclone Idai-induced floods which displaced about 87, 000 people and affected a total of 15 districts and two cities. The displaced sought refuge in schools, churches and relations’ houses.
The centres are expected to ease pressure on education facilities, especially in circumstances where displaced households seek refuge in nearby schools.