Government has said the ‘disaster risk management and communication strategy’ would go a long way in helping to coordinate activities aimed at providing relief and recovery of affected households. 

Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Kondwani Nankhumwa made the remarks on Saturday at Chimwala Primary School ground during the launch of the national disaster risk management policy and disaster communication strategy in Mangochi. 

Nankhumwa said the two documents would help government and its development partners in reduction and management of disasters which affect the country almost annually in different forms. 

He disclosed that a disaster risk management Bill would be tabled at the national budget sitting of parliament later in the year so that issues of disaster management get the necessary political support. 

The minister observed that the country experienced the worst disaster in history which claimed hundreds of lives, displaced people, killed livestock and destroyed crop fields. 

Nankhumwa assured that government would continue to provide the necessary support to households affected by floods until such a time when they were able to stand on their own again.

However, Nankhumwa commended development partners and the civil society for supporting communities affected by floods in the 17 districts with relief items when the catastrophe struck. 

“The launch of the disaster risk management policy and communication strategy will, therefore, coordinate implementation of disaster risk management interventions. There will also be coherent policy direction to reduce socio–economic and environmental impact of disasters,” he added.

Nankhumwa said the goal of the policy was to sustainably reduce social, economic and environmental impact by facilitating mainstreaming of disasters in development planning and provide proper coordination in prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

He said it was government’s expectation that all disaster risk management activities would be guided by the policy. Nankhumwa added that government recognizes that effective implementation of the policy requires popular participation.

“We’ll strive to create awareness on risk management, strengthen capacity of stakeholders for effective coordination, collaboration and networking of all partners on the one hand. On the other hand, the strategy will build a nation that is well informed on all disaster issues in a bid to building a disaster resilient nation,” he emphasised.

Nankhumwa, therefore, thanked United Nations Development Programme for financially and technically supporting the development of the policy and communication strategy.

Secretary and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Paul Chiunguzeni said the launch of the disaster risk management policy and communication strategy was an important step because the country is vulnerable to both natural and human induced hazards with floods, drought and strong winds as principal hazards.

“From 1979 up to date, disasters have cumulatively affected over 22 million people, killed over 3000 people and has played a significant role in defining household poverty and national economic growth trends through economic losses and shocks to livelihood systems,” he said.

Chiunguzeni also said disasters erode the ability of the national economy to invest in key social sectors for economic growth, noting that the impact of disasters on economic growth and poverty were manifested through various types of losses. 

He added that in view of the negative impacts of disasters on economic growth and poverty, it was necessary to mainstream disaster risk management in all sectors and at all levels.

“However, this was not possible without a coherent framework that guides disaster risk management mainstreaming in the country. Hence, the policy has been developed to guide disaster risk management mainstreaming by providing strategies for reducing disaster losses,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Mangochi Nkungulu, Aisha Mambo commended government for coming up with the policy and the communication strategy which she said would go a long way in providing direction to disaster risk management at the community level.

However, Mambo appealed for urgent support towards relief aid in form of agricultural inputs like early maturing maize varieties for winter cropping as well as cassava cuttings and potato vines.

The launch which also observed a minute of silence for all those who died in the devastating floods earlier in the year was conducted under the theme: ‘Building a nation resilient to disasters.’

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