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Items filtered by date: December 2021
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako has called on journalists in the country to enhance reporting on disaster risk reduction (DRR) interventions to help raise awareness and reduce the impact of disasters.
Kazako, who is also Government spokesperson, made the call in Mangochi on Saturday when he presided over the opening ceremony for the Zomba Press Club annual general meeting (AGM) held over the weekend.
Kazako said the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA)has been calling upon people living in disaster-prone areas to move to safer places and journalists need take those messages to the masses.
“DoDMA has been calling on people living in disaster-prone areas to relocate to safer places, as journalists, we have a role to play, we need to echo such calls and make a difference.
“Disasters derail development efforts. The country spends a lot of funds in responding to disasters. Such funds could be channelled towards constructing schools and hospitals, among others,” said Kazako.
DoDMA’s director of disaster response and recovery; Moses Chimphepo said 12,743 households have been affected by disasters, mainly, strong winds, stormy rains and lightning.
“The country has lost 26 people to disasters and 123 have sustained various degree of injuries from July to 10th December, 2021,” said Chimphepo.
The AGM was held under the theme; ‘Media, a tool for natural disaster prevention and sustainable climate change management.’
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) says disaster losses can be minimised if councils in the country were vigilant in among others; providing advice on construction of infrastructure such as houses, social services buildings like schools, clinics and roads.
Speaking in Mzimba on Wednesday, during a meeting with Mzimba District Council, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba said it is the responsibility of councils through District Civil Protection Committees (DCPCs)to provide guidance on any construction taking place so that the works are in tandem with safer building and construction guidelines.
Kalemba’s remarks comes at a time when the country has lost 25 lives and property to disasters; from July to this December, 2021 mainly due to strong winds, flash floods and lightning.
The commissioner said most communities as well as building and construction planners do not follow safer housing and construction guidelines because councils, through DCPCs do not monitor and provide guidance hence the substandard works which are already disasters in waiting.
He said councils have been doing business as usual in the way they respond and analyse disasters resulting in not investing in long lasting solutions which would ascertain the concept of building back better.
“It is high time councils changed their preparedness and response approach and start focusing on risk reduction and building of a nation that is resilient to most of the disasters that affect the country every year, including food insecurity,” said Kalemba.
He urged DCPCs to take up their rightful role by engaging communities, district or city planners as they undertake developmental activities.
“You are mandated to issue notices well in advance to those you perceive that are constructing infrastructure which from your analysis are disasters in making as per the safer housing and building guidelines which I suppose you are well aware of. This will make people to be responsible and have in mind resilience in every construction being undertaken.
“This far, we have been doing business as usual, developing contingency plans that are not responsive to the tenets of building back better. Let us change our mindset as DCPCs and help our communities to make right decisions that will save lives and the resources government channels towards disaster response," said Kalemba.
Reacting to Kalemba’s remarks, Director of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources for M’mbelwa Council, Ezra Mbendera commended DoDMA for the initiative of visiting the councils to appreciate the state of preparedness towards the 2021/2022 rainfall season.
“The interactive session was an eye opener and has challenged us on how our DCPC should function and enhance disaster risk reduction interventions.
“We pledge full commitment towards all action points highlighted and we are geared to apply them accordingly as we strive towards saving lives and property,” said Mbendera.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has called upon councils in the country to end the dependency syndrome that has greatly affected communities, leading them to rely on government and development partners for survival especially when disasters occur.
Speaking in Nkhotakota during an engagement meeting with the council on disaster risk management (DRM) and state of disaster preparedness, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba said communities have gotten used to handouts as a way of living.
Kalemba said councils have instilled a spirit of laziness in people as they have made them believe that government and development partners are there to provide humanitarian aid no matter what.
“The department has noted with great concern that communities exaggerate disasters to attract more relief items in their areas which has had a huge effect on the country’s economy. The media too, sometimes, give people wrong information.”
“For example, we got an alarming report that many houses in Mzuzu City had been affected by flash floods and that many were made homeless. DoDMA rushed to appreciate. We were so shocked to note that what was reported on was not what was actually on the ground. Only two houses were affected, and these houses in question were constructed along the river bank,” said Kalemba.
He said people have illegally constructed along Lunyangwa river risking lives and when the council comes in to sensitize and ask them to move to safer places, they obtain court injunctions yet when disasters occur, they want the same government to come in and assist.
“The construction along banks is on its own a disaster in waiting. Councils have been served with court injunctions restraining them from demolishing the illegal constructions. When a disaster occurs, the same people who obtained court injunctions are the first ones to make noise on social media, calling for humanitarian aid,” he said.
He said councils need to be vigilant and call a spade by its rightful name if they were to enforce laws that prohibit people from constructing in disaster prone areas so that lives are protected.
He said councils, through District Civil Protection Committees(DCPCs), need to prevent illegal constructions but also guide Village Civil Protection Committees (VCPCs) and Area Civil Protection Committees (ACPCs) on safer house construction so that people build to last.
“It is high time we started responding to real needs and not man-made disasters that can be avoided. We need to think progressively. Therefore, I am asking councils to map areas that are prone to floods, food insecure and come up with programmes that will build resilience of the communities,” he said.
On his part, Acting District Commissioner for Nkhotakota, Ben Tonho commended DoDMA for working towards building a resilient nation.
“On behalf of the council and the DCPC, let me thank DoDMA for the commitment towards building a resilient nation as we have been challenged beyond what we envisioned,” said Tonho.
He said that if councils were to follow the commissioner’s remarks, soon Malawi may become a food secure and self-reliant nation.
“It is true that the beginning of a self-reliant nation is in people’s commitment but it is the responsibility of us councils to invest in sustainable solutions such as irrigation farming,” he said.
DoDMA has been engaging councils to appreciate the status of disaster preparedness. A recent report by the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services on the 2021/22 rainfall seasonal forecast indicates that the country will experience normal to above normal rains which might trigger the occurrence of floods in some areas.
The picture shows part of the proceedings during the meeting with Nkhotakota District Council.
Likoma District Council has oriented journalists plying their trade within and outside its jurisdiction in Disaster Risk Management (DRM).
Speaking on Monday (6th December, 2021) during the orientation session, Likoma District Council Relief and Rehabilitation Officer (RRO) Daniel Mandala said the media should engage an extra gear in reporting on disaster risk reduction to promote a culture of safety and resilience amongst communities and the district as a whole.
“Disaster risk reduction is everyone’s responsibility and the media should play a major role in ensuring that there is community participation in the implementation of disaster risk reduction programmes and dissemination of early warning messages,” said Mandala.
He then called upon the journalists to work closely with the council in efforts aimed at reducing disaster risks and uplifting the lives of communities in Likoma district.
District Information Officer (DIO) for Likoma, Leonard Masauli described the orientation session as an eye opener.
“The orientation has shaped the way we are supposed to ply our trade. We need to report more on disaster risk reduction if we are to make strides in DRM as a district,” said Masauli.
The session brought together one journalist each from Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), Likoma Community Radio, Malawi News Agency (MANA) and Nations Publications Limited (NPL).
Similar sessions were held in Nsanje, Dedza, Machinga and Mangochi between June and November this year.

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2024-03-05 08:19