A new report on disasters globally has rated Malawi as a highly vulnerable and fragile country, stating that in 2019 it was the second worst hit after Iran.
The 2020 World Disasters Report by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), however, observes that countries most affected by climate-related disasters receive a small fraction of climate change adaptation funding and therefore, struggle to protect people from climate change effects.
Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland on November 17 when he launched the report, IFRC secretary general Jagan Chapagain said smart financing and risk reduction measures would play a major role in protecting the most exposed communities.
He said: “However, our research demonstrates that the world is collectively failing to do this. There is a clear disconnection between where the climate risk is greatest and where climate adaptation funding goes. This disconnection could very well cost lives.
“Investing in resilience in the most vulnerable places is more cost-effective than to accept continued increases in the cost of humanitarian response, and contributes to a safer, more prosperous and sustainable world for everyone.”
According to the report, 991 648 Malawians were affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth in March and April 2019, while Iran had over 10 million people impacted by natural disasters, with Paraguay coming third with 521 191 people affected.
Reads the report in part: “Even where there are forecasting capacities, multi-hazard early warning systems are only effective if they actually reach and are actionable by those who need them.”
The report also observes that financing approaches are often not comprehensive, focusing funds and attention on a single mechanism to the neglect and detriment of smart strategic approaches to managing risk.
“For instance, Cyclones Idai and Kenneth devastated Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March and April 2019, taking more than 1 000 lives, leaving 2.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance … Research indicated that the loss of life could have been reduced if there had been better uptake and understanding of needed actions, as well as better flood forecasting,” reads the report further.
Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services director Jolam Nkhokwe in September this year said the country should expect good rains in the 2020/21 rainfall season, but warned of extreme weather events.
Globally, the IFRC report indicates that 127 floods affected 69 countries, killed 1 586 people and displaced 10 million more.
The highest numbers of countries affected by floods in 2019 were in Asia with 42 floods across 22 countries while Africa experienced 38 floods across 21 countries.