President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has asked all stakeholders in the country to work together in moving Malawi into a climate-resilient future where natural disasters will not have noticeable impact on livelihoods as has been the case with Cyclone Freddy.
The Malawi leader was speaking on Monday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe when he donated K120 million and over 600 blankets to Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) which is coordinating relief efforts for communities that have been displaced and are currently in shelter camps.
He noted that the devastation from the cyclone has disturbed the social order such that the reconstruction process needs a multi-faceted approach from everyone.
“What Tropical Cyclone Freddy has done to our country is so devastating that it will take years to reconstruct what has been damaged and some of the losses we have suffered may never be recovered. And it is so devastating that any recovery or reconstruction will require that we all work together to move toward a future that is more prepared for the climate shocks we will undoubtedly face going forward,” said President Chakwera.
The money donated on the day was realized from a charity golf tournament that was played under the Presidential Charity Initiative last October. The blankets on the other hand were donated by SAVENDA Group of Companies which is owned by multi-billionaire Malawian businessman, Clever Mpoha, who is currently based in Zambia.
The President said he had deliberately donated the money and the materials through DoDMA to send a clear message that government systems must be trusted unlike in the past when they were used as conduits of fraud and theft.
“In the past, DoDMA was often used as a conduit for fraud and misuse of resources, which damaged its credibility. But six months after I got into office, I made changes in the leadership of the Department and required them to report directly to my office in order to restore the department’s credibility as a trusted agency for managing disaster situations that emerge,” he said while expressing satisfaction in how the department has so far responded to the current national disaster.
President Chakwera noted that strengthening the country’s institutions is the best way of moving the country towards real and inclusive development.
“While we applaud the efforts of international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations in responding to these national disasters, we must never forget that over time and in the long term, our goal and objective must be to strengthen governance institutions and increase their capacity to deal with these matters themselves. We will never develop as a country if we continue perpetuating systems and structures that are well-intended, but whose long-term net effect is the weakening of the capacity and agency of our communities and our institutions.”
According to DoDMA statistics, Cyclone Freddy has affected 2.5 million people, claiming 676 lives while 537 people are still missing.
Currently there are more than 750 camps across the Southern Region sheltering close to 143,000 households.