Vice-President Saulos Chilima has asked for greater inclusion of elderly persons in reducing disasters and responding to the aftermaths.
Chilima made the request at Kiwe, Karonga, on Saturday when he graced the International Day for Disaster Reduction themed Resilience is for Life—the Elderly and Disasters.
In his speech, the Vice-President said the senior citizens—often sidelined, despised and abandoned in times of emergencies—constitute a vital source of insights on traditional ways of detecting, mitigating and escaping such disasters as floods and earthquakes.
According to Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati, the country has slightly over 500 000 old people.
The commemoration, dating back to 1989, was also marked by a tell-all address by Paramount Chief Kyungu who blasted Karonga District Council officials for hijacking relief items meant for victims of poor people hit by the earthquake in the shoreline locality.
He said: “When the earthquake displaced a lot of people, government and its partners rushed here and donated a lot of foods for those who were hit. I regret to inform you that because of mismanagement at the district commissioner’s [DC] office, the goods meant for survivors were abused by public officers. Let these things not happen again.”
The traditional leader also implored Chilima, who is in charge for reforms in the public service, to consider transferring council officials regularly to curb mismanagement and impunity.
The chief also took a swipe at the Red Cross Society of Malawi for allegedly building kitchen-like houses for victims.
However, Red Cross programme manager Patrick Phiri said the decried two-bedroom houses for the poorest of the poor were built with the approval from the council, UN Habitat and the Ministry of Lands and Housing.
“When the earthquake happened, nearly 4 500 people were affected and 250 houses destroyed. Our intervention was largely to build houses for poor and vulnerable survivors. Of course, we had issues with the quality of finishing, but we came back, rectified them and they were certified fit by the Department of Lands,” Phiri said.