The Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (Cadecom) has asked government to ensure a disaster management budget line in the forth-coming 2013/14 financial year.
The Lilongwe-based institution has said funding towards disaster management could help Malawi curb the frequency and intensity of natural disasters that are threatening the right to life among the Malawi population.
“For instance, in the history of Malawi, the national budget has never had a budget line for disaster management yet the country uses a lot of resources in reactive response to disasters instead of building on preparedness,” said Martin Mazinga, Cadecom National Program Coordinator on Monday.
Malawi has been facing a number of disasters that include landslides, earthquakes, pest infestations, floods, drought, stormy rains, strong winds, hailstorms, disease outbreaks, fire and accidents.
The disaster situation has been exacerbated by climate change, population growth, urbanisation and environmental degradation.
Mazinga noted that in Malawi disaster management has been described by different stakeholders as reactive due to what he described as ‘weak legal and institutional framework for disaster risk management.’
“Malawi is wasting more resources in reactive response to disasters instead of being pro-active through taking the disaster risk management issues in the financial budget. Cadecom notes in the national budget the absence of budget lines for Disaster Risk Management,” added Mazinga.
He said the absence of disaster management funding cause for the prevailing untimely, inappropriate and poorly coordinated disaster risk management work in Malawi as reported by most communities in the country.
Mazinga said the budget for emergency response under the “Unforeseen Expenditure” vote is presently at K200 million (about $500 000), which he said is not made readily available to the Department for Disaster Management and Affairs (DoDMA) unless there is a disaster.
He said Cadecom is worried that the department, continues to depend on the “Other Recurrent Transaction” (ORT) vote resources and donor funding.
“Considering the nature of some disasters which may require response within 24 hours, it becomes cumbersome for DoDMA to transact with the Treasury and respond on time. This problem trickles down to the district where the district contingency plans remain unfunded,” he added.
He challenged the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Planning and Development to do a cost benefit analysis to deduce how much money is spent in reactive response to disasters each year and how much would have been saved in preparedness.
During a pre-budget consultation in Lilongwe tow weeks ago, Finance Minister Dr. Ken Lipenga acknowledged the input from other stakeholders on the need to increase funding towards disaster management and refuted an assertion by a representative from Oxfam that Malawi has no budget line towards disaster risk management.