Slum dwellers in Mzuzu are still living dangerously over a year since floods and landslides ripped homes and killed children in the city.
The city, which hosts the national commemorations of the International Day for Disaster Reduction on Friday, suffered a humanitarian crisis in April last year.
Due to half-hearted enforcement of dos and don’ts, thousands are still living in disaster-prone marshes, near streams and on slopes.
The riskiest zones include Chibanja, Chibavi, Zolozolo East and Masasa where 18 748 people were displaced last year.
Consider Mwale of Masasa has defied advice from President Peter Mutharika and his deputy Saulos Chilima to vacate the perilous slopes.
“Masasa is my home,” says the mother-of-three. “To relocate, I need land and cash to construct a new home.”
According to Mzuzu City Council, the city has 12 slums and over 60 percent of residents live in squatters declared inhabitable by city authorities.
Physical planning expert Mtafu Zeleza Manda, based at Mzuzu University, blames the council for paying a blind eye to low-income earners settling in undesignated areas.
Mzuzu City mayor William Mkandawire says the council has come up with a disaster recovery framework to enhance preparation for the worst-case scenarios before tragedy strikes.
He says the commemoration will be a reminder to the people of Mzuzu that “they need to be prepared for such calamities”. n