The United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres Macho has asked organisations to leave no one behind in the emergency response to devastating effects of heavy rains that displaced 125 000 people three weeks ago.
She was responding to concerns of uneven distribution of relief items as thousands of flood survivors in some remote camps went over two weeks without food, utensils, sanitation props, blankets, mosquito nets and other basics.
Since President Peter Mutharika declared a National State of Disaster on March 8, there has been an influx of government agencies, civil society organisations, firms and development partners in camps closer to tarmac roads and trading centres.
This has created a situation where more assistance is being provided to a few areas at the expense of other places equally in need in remote areas.
Macho attributed the disparities to challenges in reaching some affected communities and coordination gaps. She said the gaps are being addressed as information trickles in.
She said: “Accessibility challenges are affecting the response in some areas. The disparities may have also largely risen because some partners are directing their support in areas where they already operate and have existing structures, leaving a gap in areas with fewer partners.”
Macho said the UN is working with government, through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), to strengthen coordination and information management at national and district level.
The National Disaster Reduction Policy requires government to respond swiftly and prevent rights violations when disasters occur.
During a visit to Chikwawa last week, Mutharika asked affected communities not to despair as government has enough supplies. He also urged against discrimination in the distribution of relief items.
But when The Nation on Friday visited camps in traditional authorities Makhuwira and Chapananga, people had waited in vain for two weeks to get basic items.
Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said Dodma has been providing relief items to “almost all the camps” sheltering displaced people.
“We have noted, however, that some organisations have provided relief items to their areas of choice, a response pattern which has disadvantaged remote and hard-to-reach areas,” he said.
Dodma Principal Secretary and Commissioner Wilson Moleni urged well-wishers to contact Dodma which is facilitating even distribution of goods and services to leave no one behind.
The department is this week meeting all 15 district commissioners from affected areas to strengthen coordination and eliminate disparities.
Government estimates that the country requires $42.3 million (about K31.2 billion) for the flood response but, so far, contributions and pledges total $11 million (about K8.1 billion).
On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the international community to support the response plan requiring some $31.3 million (about K23 billion) for smooth implementation. n