Abida Mia begs UN, US for more help to rebuild Malawi after Cyclone Freddy
Water and Sanitation minister Abida Mia has pleaded with the UN and the US government for more help as the country is trying to recover after being hit hard by the ravaging Cyclone Freddy which has left hundreds of people dead and thousands more displaced due heavy rains and landslides.
The minister, who is a legislator for Chikwawa Nkombezi and is widely considered as a political stalwart and she is dubbed ‘the giant of the Lower Shire’ told global aid agency, rich and powerful countries that Malawi is currently in dire straits and in need of urgent support as soon as possible.
Mia, who made the plea in New York, USA where she is attending the UN 2023 Water Conference on behalf of president Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, said in an exclusive interview she asked the UN and the US government and other development partners at the summit to give Malawi more support because the country is heavily bruised.
Said Mia: “On the sidelines of the conference, I had an audience with the leadership of the UN, top US officials, UK minister responsible for for Natural Resources, Environment, Climate Change, Overseas Territories and Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office and other development partners.
“The good news is that all those that I reached out to are willing to help us and I hope that the support will start flowing into the country as soon as possible.”
Mia said most the organisations, countries and development partners are eager and ready to help Malawi due to the good rapport they have with the country’s leadership, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera who appears to command a lot of respect and reverence from many world leaders.
“I have had the privilege and great honour this week of leading the Malawian delegation to the United Nations 2023 Water Conference in New York, USA and I used that platform to beg for support. I painted a clear vivid picture to them of the extent as to how deep the problem is and how acutely affected Malawians are due the cyclone,” she said.
She added: “I would like to register my sincere gratitude to His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi for entrusting me with this huge noble responsibility.”
According to the Water and Sanitation minister, among several engagements, on behalf of President Chakwera, she delivered a statement at the UN General Assembly where she appealed for more support from the international community to assist in reconstruction of water and sanitation infrastructure damaged by the ravaging Cyclone Freddy.
“Also, we had an opportunity of holding a bilateral discussion with the British Government, led by the UK Minister responsible for Natural Resources, Environment, Climate Change, Overseas Territories and Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Lord Zac Goldsmith whome she discussed with on many areas of collaboration.
“Lord Goldsmith assured me that the UK Government would lend its unflinching support in the management of water catchment areas and improving access to clean water and sanitation in Malawi,” Mia said, adding;
“With Lord Zac Goldsmith, we participated at the Fair Water Foot Print event, where we discussed the importance of working together to achieve global sustainable and equitable water utilization,” said Mia.
Mia said she is greatly honoured to deliver an address during the interactive dialogue on Water for Health session where I took advantage of the session to raise awareness of the importance of investing in water development and management in order to achieve positive health outcomes as well as other development goals such as food security, gender equality, poverty reduction and inclusive education.
“This conference has provided us, as a country, an opportunity to engage with our Development Partners. During the conference, we met the World Bank and The Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) leadership who all commended Malawi’s efforts to increase access to clean water and sanitation,” said Mia.
Mia said she is pleased that this meeting coincided with the World Bank’s approval of the US$ 145 million grant towards the Malawi Water and Sanitation Project.
Mia quipped: “This summit accorded us an opportunity of interacting and networking with Heads of States, Mnisters, Ambassadors and Heads of UN agencies from across the globe during a dinner, which was hosted by the Government of Finland, where among other other important discussions, we shared useful insights on how we can solve water and sanitation issues in our countries.
“Overall, the conference was a huge success and of great benefit to the country and I strongly believe that it will assist in accelerating our projects leading to Malawians having an increased access to water and sanitation.”
The death toll in Malawi due to the exceptionally long-lasting tropical Cyclone Freddy has reached a staggering 438 and the country’s president, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has since declared a 14-day national mourning period on Thursday last week.
There are hundreds of evacuations centres set up across the country for survivors with tens of thousands in Malawi left homeless and it is estimated that approximately 345,000 people are affected by the heavy rains, floods and landslide.
Mia was among the first prominent people in the commercial city of Blantyre to respond to the disaster as she was seen in worst hit Chilobwe squatter township helping out the victims.
The UN 2023 Water Conference – formally known as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation (2018-2028) – was held last week at the UN Headquarters in New York, co-hosted by Tajikistan and the Netherlands.
“Water and sanitation flow through every aspect of sustainable development and access to these essential services are human rights.
“Water is also at the heart of adaptation to climate change, serving as the crucial link between the climate system, human society and the environment,” explained Mia.
Mia said without proper water governance, there is likely to be increased competition for water between sectors and an escalation of water crises of various kinds, triggering emergencies in a range of water-dependent sectors.
She explained: “The physical world of water is closely bound up with the socio-political world, with water often a key factor in managing risks such as famine, epidemics, inequalities and political instability.