The outgoing Japanese Ambassador Kae Yanagisawa has advised Malawi to focus on disaster prevention instead of response.
The diplomat made the remarks in Lilongwe yesterday when she presented relief items to the Malawi Government as part of her government’s response to Cyclone Idai effects.
She said the items, comprising school bags, drinking cups and safety mats, were from Japan’s city of Ota.
Said Yanagisawa: “We need to work more on preparedness and how to avoid than response. Make extra effort to make Malawi cope with natural shocks. Items are of secondary importance, but preparedness is prime.”
In his remarks, Vice-President Everton Chimulilenji, who received the items on behalf of Malawi Government, thanked the mayor of Ota City and the ambassador. He said the items will be utilised accordingly.
He also acknowledged the suggestion to focus on preparedness.
“Malawi is a disaster-prone country with common hazards such as floods, prolonged dry spells, pests and disease outbreaks, earthquakes, strong winds, amongst others. The frequency and magnitude of disasters is increasing in light of the rapid population growth, urbanisation, environmental degradation and effects of climate change,” said Chimulirenji.
He said Malawi has prioritised disaster risk management in its Malawi Growth and Development Strategy to effectively coordinate Disaster Risk Management programmes aimed at building resilience of the nation and communities.
The policy outlines Malawi’s priority areas and strategies to build a nation resilient to disasters. Malawi has also developed a National Resilience Strategy to enhance resilience building efforts.
Following the March 2019 floods, Japan through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) responded to the appeal for assistance and supported affected households in some affected districts with shelter and non-food items such as family tents, tarpaulins and blankets.
According to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) the common reported disasters during the season include stormy rains, floods, strong winds, hailstorms and lightning.
A Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) that was conducted after the 2015 floods estimated damages and losses across different sectors at $335 million while the cost of recovery and reconstruction requirements were estimated at $494 million.