The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has taken a bold step in breaking the food insecurity cycle through rehabilitation of irrigation schemes which were damaged by the March 2019 Cyclone Idai-induced floods.
DoDMA is rehabilitating the irrigation schemes with funding from the African Development Bank (ADB) under the Post Cyclone Idai Emergency Recovery Project (PCIREP).
At the 200-hectare-sized Chimwala-Mbangu Irrigation Scheme, communities from Traditional Authority Malemia have started harvesting crops they planted following completion of rehabilitation works.
Speaking when he visited the irrigation schemes to appreciate progress made, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba, said it was high time the country embraced irrigation farming and winter cropping to break the food insecurity cycle.
“Effects of climate change have hit us hard, we cannot continue to rely on rain-fed agriculture. We need to enhance ways through which we can build self-reliance and resilience of communities and the nation as a whole.
“This is the path development partners and all stakeholders need to take if we were to make meaningful strides in breaking the food insecurity cycle. We are destined to having higher yields if we invested in irrigation and winter farming. We can be selling surplus requirements and generate the much-needed income for socio-economic development of the nation,” said Kalemba.
Chimwala-Mbangu Irrigation Scheme Chairperson, Givemore Zambasa, said communities have the potential to break the food insecurity cycle if assisted with need-based interventions.
“We are not beggars; we have no intentions to be surviving on handouts. They [handouts] are not dignifying, they are so demeaning and reduces our self-esteem. With proper assistance, we can work wonders down here. Efforts by DoDMA have already started paying dividends. We planted immediately after completion of the rehabilitation works and have started harvesting.
“Currently, we are utilizing 120 hectares and we are looking forward to utilizing all the 200 hectares. We are 823 [families] in total and hundreds of families have expressed interest to be allocated a piece of land on the scheme; having witnessed the progress we have made following the rehabilitation,” said Zambasa.
PCIREP aims at restoring and improving sustainable livelihoods, enhance disaster risk reduction and early warning preparedness, support inclusive socio-economic recovery empowerment and enhance post-recovery adaptive capacity for people who were affected by Cyclone Idai.
Idai affected 975,000 people, left 87,000 displaced, 60 dead and 672 injured.
As the on-set of the rainy season draws closer, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), has intensified disaster preparedness interventions through training and dredging of rivers that flood frequently.
With technical expertise from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and funding from the World Bank, under the Malawi Resilience and Disaster Risk Management Project (MRDRMP), DoDMA is dredging and training Ndiola, Nyamadzere, Nyamkotola and Nyachilenda rivers in Nsanje District.
Speaking when he visited the sites to appreciate progress made in implementing the flood mitigating interventions, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba said the department is leaving no stone unturned in disaster preparedness.
“Floods in the lower shire are mainly aggravated by siltation and debris in the rivers so much that even small amounts of rainfall result in flooding. The river dredging and training will greatly reduce flood risks. As we are making strides in moving communities at risk to safer places, we have also strengthened interventions aimed at protecting them from perennial disasters and building their resilience.
“Most of the rivers changed their course following Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclones Gombe and Idai and the works will see to it that running waters should not find their way to people’s houses,” said Kalemba.
He then called upon communities and councils in the country to take an active role in mitigating the impact of disasters.
“Disasters derail socio-economic development of communities and the country as a whole. Let us enhance our efforts in reducing disaster risks through protecting the river banks, among other interventions.” said Kalemba.
Disaster Risk Management Desk Officer for Nsanje District, Patrick Sipuni, said the flood mitigating and preparedness interventions could not have come at the right time.
“Most of the rivers changed their course following Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe-induced floods. Coupled with high levels of siltation, Ndiola River alone affected 400 households from six villages. The families lost most of their household property.
“This [the river training and dredging] will go a long way in reducing flood risks in the district and as a Council, we are going to take advantage of the Climate Smart Public Works Programme to ensure that we have vegetative cover around the rivers. We will also work on addressing the root cause of siltation in the rivers,” said Sipuni.
In a quest to ensure a well-coordinated system in managing disasters in the lower shire, DoDMA is constructing an Emergency Operation Centre in Chikwawa District, with funds from the African Development Bank, under the Post Cyclone Idai Emergency Recovery Project.
The department is also constructing an Evacuation Centre in Mchacha James Village, TA Mlolo, Nsanje. The centre is expected to minimize situations in which classes are disrupted because classroom blocks have been turned into camps during emergencies.
As part of preparedness, the department has developed the national multi-hazard contingency plan in readiness for the season, to guide the response interventions for any type of disaster the country may experience.
The department has also, with financial and technical support form the World Food Programme, coordinated the establishment of a humanitarian staging area (HSA) at Bangula, in Nsanje District, to fast-track coordination and response to disasters in the Lower Shire. The HSA has in stock search and rescue equipment such as boats and relief items for timely and effective response.
DoDMA, in collaboration with the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), is also conducting awareness and sensitization campaigns on the prospects and implications of the 2022/2023 downscaled seasonal forecast targeting councils in disaster prone areas.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) has called on structures at council levels and all stakeholders to exercise impartiality and honesty in the implementation of the 2022/23 Lean Season Food Insecurity Response Programme (LS-FIRP) targeting food insecure populations as projected by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC).
MVAC projected that 3.8 million people will be food insecure in 27 districts (except Likoma) and four cities of the country during the 2022/23 lean season (November 2022 to March 2023) leading to the development of the (LS-FIRP) to assist in resource mobilization and guide the response intervention.
Speaking in Mangochi during a full council meeting on the implementation of the 2022/23 LS-FIRP, DoDMA’s Director of Response and Recovery Rev. Moses Chimphepo said authorities need to take an active role in ensuring that only the less privileged benefit from the programme.
“As a department, our role is to provide councils with all the necessary resources and technical assistance for the implementation of the programme. Targeting of beneficiaries is solely the responsibility of local structures such as the village and area civil protection committees. As authorities, let us conduct verification exercises to ensure that only the intended people benefit from the assistance.
“The office of the District Commissioners should work hand in hand with traditional authorities in ensuring honesty and iron out all malpractices that may impede the smooth implementation of the programme,” said Chimphepo.
In his remarks, Mangochi District Council Chairperson Ivy Sande concurred with Chimphepo stressing that authorities should be vigilant in verifying beneficiaries of the programme.
“Let us ensure that economically stable households are not benefiting at the expense of the marginalized, specifically child-headed families living in dire situations,” said Sande.
DoDMA is meeting and sensitizing councils whose beneficiaries will receive assistance for four months (November 2022 to March 2023) under the LS-FIRP, which is also known as the MVAC Humanitarian Response Programme.
The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) on Tuesday, (1st November, 2022) rolled out distribution of relief food assistance to food insecure households under the 2022/23 Lean Season Food Insecurity Response Programme (LS-FIRP).
The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) projected that 3.8 million people will be food insecure in 27 districts (except Likoma) and four cities of the country.
DoDMA and humanitarian partners will be implementing the programme using two modalities; cash transfers and in-kind maize distribution to address the food situation.
Speaking in Nsanje, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Charles Kalemba said the department has rolled out the programme as earlier on indicated promising to reach out to every affected person in all the councils.
Kalemba said the programme will run for five months in the severely affected districts and three months in the relatively affected districts.
He said government will make sure that no one dies of hunger and that only the less privileged and deserving people benefit from the programme.
"As the President promised that DoDMA will commence food distribution on 1st November, 2022, here we are, fulfilling it. Dr Lazarus Chakwera also assured all the affected people that no one is going to die of hunger.
"Through councils, we will make sure that every deserving household receives either food or cash transfers," said Kalemba.
He said that the department will not give a blind eye to any reported malpractice government officers and other duty bearers may get involved in.
"Let me warn those that take advantage of this exercise and steal from the less privileged that the law will be applied accordingly," he said.
He said: "Beneficiaries are also urged not to sell the maize they have received. They will also be prosecuted once caught selling because that will be evidence enough that they were not deserving beneficiaries of the programme."
The MVAC report indicated that affected people in Zomba District, Zomba City, Balaka, Nsanje and Chikwawa will require food assistance for five months (November 2022 to March 2023) while the rest of the councils in the southern region will require assistance for four months (December 2022-March 2023). Beneficiaries in councils from the central and northern regions of the country will require assistance for three months (January to March, 2023).
In his remarks, Traditional Authority (T/A) Makoko commended government for the timely response and living by its promise.
Makoko said Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe heavily affected production of crops in the district; leaving many households food insecure.
He issued a stern warning to duty bearers who would want to take advantage of the exercise for personal gains and beneficiaries that would want to sell relief assistance.
"We will work hand in hand with the Malawi Police Service to ensure that no one is abusing the programme,” he said.
The total resource requirements for the implementation of the programme are pegged at MK74.17 billion of which K46.91 billion has been mobilized through cash transfers by partners and the African Risk Capacity Programme insurance payout.
Kalemba assured that with the cash transfers plus the maize that government has provided, each and every beneficiary will be covered during the period in question.
Photo credit: Arkangel Tembo (Malawi News Agency); DoDMA
The Malawi Government has called upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to enhance mindset change if the region were to make strides in reducing disaster risks and building resilience of the most vulnerable communities.
Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Charles Kalemba made the call on Tuesday (26th October, 2022) in Blantyre when he presided over the official opening ceremony for the 5th Biennial Southern Africa Society for Disaster Reduction (SASDiR).
Kalemba said it was high time the SADC region and Africa as a whole thought through ways of addressing disaster-induced challenges for meaningful socio-economic development.
“This far; we have not done very well as a region and a continent. This is why we continue experiencing the same hazards; with no solutions in place. this is not the way humans are supposed to live, we need to look at hazards and come up with solutions. We need to shift from that standpoint to a system where we are going to look at each and every hazard and see how we can navigate around it and turn it into an opportunity. We need to start mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and resilience building across all sectors.
“We also need to take mindset change seriously, all of us must change the way we think, most of the times we think the world will dance around us, which is not the case. We need to wake up from the slumber, and come up with tangible solutions to the challenges we are facing as individuals, communities, councils, nations, regions and Africa; we cannot continue to be hit by disasters left and right and continue to use the same old methods or approaches to protect ourselves,” said Kalemba.
In his remarks, SASDiR Chairperson and Head of the African Centre for Disaster Studies at South Africa’s North West University Prof. Dewald van Niekerk said the region needs to address disaster risk reduction as a complex issue.
“The major challenge is that we have very much limited capacity within the right environment, we also tend to focus on disaster risk not as a complex issue which needs to be addressed by multiple sectors. There is an underlying text that disaster risk is the responsibility of the government, which is not the case. We need multiple role plays and multiple focus to minimize disaster risks.
“We need to understand issues we sit with; we have enough scientific knowledge on multiple hazards that affect us, we know the seasonality and the context of natural hazards. We need to bring communities into the fold and address their needs first,” said Niekerk.
On the other hand, the Executive Director for Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI) Maynard Nyirenda said there was need for the region to focus on disaster preparedness and mitigation interventions.
“What we are noting as disaster risk management practitioners is that we have been responding to disasters, issuing out relief packages, but it’s high time we focused on reducing disaster risks. This [conference] has come at a very critical time because as a country; we are implementing the Malawi 2063 development blueprint, but as we are doing that, we need to ensure that we have mainstreamed disaster risk reduction and resilience building in the development agenda,” said Nyirenda.
The conference, which runs from 26th to 28th October, and has brought together academics, researchers and disaster practitioners among others; has been organized to review progress in the implementation of continental and global disaster risk reduction frameworks, share good practices and lessons learnt with a view to enhance coordination, increasing awareness and mobilizing commitments to disaster risk reduction in the SADC region and across Africa.
The North West University has been central in organizing the hosting of the event with partnership from SDI, the Malawi University of Science and Technology and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs.
SASDiR was established in 2010 as a community of practice for disaster risk reduction within the SADC regional context.