Mzuzu University (Mzuni) has embarked on a research project conceived to offer better insight into natural disasters that occur in Karonga.
The lakeside border town is a well known disaster-prone area following a history of devastating earthquakes, floods, hailstorms and dry spells.
However, Urban Africa-Risk and Knowledge (Urban Ark) co-investigator Mtafu Zeleza Manda says even smaller disasters such as road accidents, unsafe water sources and poor sanitation and hygiene could put a lot of people at risk than the extensive chronic catastrophes that are well chronicled.
In an interview during a media training at the university, the senior lecturer in town planning said: “What makes Karonga Town prone to disasters is not the way people have built, but its location. The area borders a flood-prone river, North Rukuru, and Lake Malawi.
“The occurrence of these risks has been recorded, but we want to know the cumulative impacts and severity which have not been studied properly.”
To close the gap, the university is engaging locals to establish the risks facing the town, how they perceived the disasters, what puts them at risk and how they can adapt it to overcome the both the devastation and disasters.
Interestingly, the project, funded by DfID and Economic and Social Research of the UK, requires the university and it’s target population to share information at all levels of the study. n