Government has launched mitigation works in flood-prone Nsanje and Chikwawa, to prevent perennial disasters that hit the two Shire Valley districts.
The works, being implemented by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma)—whose minister is Vice-President Saulos Chilima—through the Shire River Basin Management Programme, includes construction of dykes.
According to Dodma, the prioritised mitigation interventions were identified and outlined by local communities in eight traditional authorities in the two districts.
Apart from engaging 2 000 households who will receive cash after taking part in the mitigating works, the initiative will also see the construction of dykes at Gooke, Nafafa River, Milole River, Tengani Market in Nsanje and construction of a crossing point at Mafale in Chikwawa.
“All the five contractors have started the construction work. We want to invest in prevention. Globally, there is empirical evidence that every dollar invested in risk reduction saves $7 that could have been spent in disaster response. This is what we want to achieve,” Dodma commissioner Clement Chinthu Phiri said.
Besides the construction and cash for work, the project will procure early warning equipment that will include megaphones with sirens, solar lights and bicycles to be distributed to communities.
Commenting on the initiative, Malawi Red Cross Society communications manager Felix Washoni said disaster mitigation was about preparation, recovery and response.
He said with such mechanisms, disasters can be prevented and government will save money, which will be channelled to other equally important projects.
Washoni said in 2015, government used money on disasters instead of health and education.
“It is important to have contingency plans for districts [such as] early warning systems and dykes. So, if we invest in that, it will save money,” he said.