The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) says government needs about $350 million (K270 billion) for recovery from effects of the March floods that killed 60 people, displaced 87 000 others and damaged infrastructure.
Speaking in Blantyre on Friday during a consultative meeting with district commissioners (DCs), Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Disasters Wilson Mollen said following a post-disaster needs assessment, Dodma is now working on a recovery plan that will see the rehabilitation of damaged property such as roads, dykes and other public infrastructures such as hospitals and schools.
The department, which has since closed down 170 of the 173 displaced settlements, is also engaging its partners and district councils to allocate land to displaced people so that they do not resettle in disaster-prone areas.
Mollen expressed disappointment with the slow pace in relocating flood survivors to safer areas, which has forced some to return to disaster-prone areas.
He said: “This is why we have called for this meeting, to encourage all districts councils to map their areas and identify safer areas for people so that support should go towards such areas.
“It is sad that year in year out, it is the same people from the same areas who get affected by these natural disasters. As a nation, we need to find a lasting solution to these disasters so that resources that are channelled towards disasters should instead be used for other development projects.”
According to Mollen, Dodma will not provide relief items to flood survivors beyond this month.
“We do not want to create continued dependency. People must start a new life and begin to be productive. With the recovery package that they are given when leaving the camps, we believe this is attainable,” he said.
Last month, Dodma started closing down camps in areas that were affected by floods, with the Malawi Red Cross Society providing shelter to 170 households that have relocated to Mwalija Village, Traditional Authority Kasisi in Chikwawa.
Chikwawa DC Lusizi Nhlane highlighted shortage of land as a major challenge.
“Most of the areas in the district are low-lying areas, but we are still discussing to find a lasting solution. Aside from Mwalija Village, we have also succeeded in securing land through a local NGO at Phimbi Village. We are trying our best,” he said.
In March this year, the Roads Authority (RA) estimated that K4.6 billion was required for the rehabilitation of main roads and bridges damaged by the floods mainly in the Southern Region.
Some of the roads and bridges that were damaged by the floods include M1 Road next to Kamuzu Bridge in Chikwawa, East Bank Road (Thabwa to Fatima), Robert Mugabe Road (Midima Road), Mangochi-Makanjira Road in Mangochi and the Mpatamanga Bridge on the Chileka-Mwanza Road.
The floods also destroyed crops mainly in the two Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje.
Following President Peter Mutharika’s declaration of a State of National Disaster, Dodma announced that government needed about K12 billion to assist flood survivors in the 15 affected districts.
Since the disaster occurred, development partners, including United Nations agencies, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAid), and neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Tanzania supported government with aid.