Digital track of disaster information crucial, says UNDP

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has weighed-in on the need to use ultramodern systems in tracking disaster information saying doing so helps increase the speed, accuracy, and reliability of data towards improving disaster risk reduction in the country.

Malawi is presently struggling to dust off the innumerable effects of Cyclone Ana which has led to loss of lives, livestock as well as damage to thousands of hectares of land – especially in the Lower Shire Valley.

Speaking on the sidelines of a project, in which UNDP has partnered with the Department of Disaster Management on a project to strengthen coordination during humanitarian crisis in the country, UNDP Malawi Program Analyst for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Sothini Nyirenda, said doing so was very crucial with natural disasters on the rise.

It is crucial to digitally track disaster information – Nyirenda

Nyirenda noted that over the years, Malawi has been facing frequent and intense floods, droughts, strong winds and other extreme weather conditions endangering communities, agricultural activities and infrastructure.

“Appreciating the fact that floods continue to pose serious threats to life and property across the country, we have been partnering Malawi government to help build capacity of key actors to improve weather and climate information, early warnings to disaster-prone communities to save lives and safeguard livelihoods,” Nyirenda said.

According to him, UNDP is working towards advancing government agendas in diverse sectors including during natural disasters like tropical storm Ana.

“We [UNDP) are also working with the government, through DODMA [Department of Disaster and Management Affairs], on information management systems and mechanisms aimed at strengthening the humanitarian coordination in the country,” he said.

He added: “The initiative is generating important analyses for planning and real-time incident reporting during disasters which helps in ensuring timely response to affected populations and to promote resilience.

“The initiative has been rolled out in Balaka, Mangochi, Phalombe and Chikwawa districts and covers 2.58 million people,” he said.

One of the flood victims, Agnes Gwembere, a mother of one child, who is also seeking shelter at one of the evacuation centres constructed in the area of Group Village Headman Ng’anjo of Traditional Authority Jenala in Phalombe district narrated how a vacation centre constructed with UNDP’s support has changed her experience.

“I came to this evacuation centre with hope that I will get assisted as I wait for the weather to normalize and start anew as I lost almost everything including my house.

“I am thankful that the centre has been a safe harbour for the fact that we are being provided with food and a safe place to sleep. This facility was constructed systematically to constrain water from debilitating it, hence our security is very quiet assured here,” Gwembere told Nyasa Times.

UNDP Malawi is also working with DODMA, to strengthen its administrative and coordination support, analysis of data, Assessment of district reports and the plans to develop a Humanitarian response plan that will ensure robust disaster recovery mechanisms.

Since the beginning of the rainy season last year, almost half of the the country’s 28 districts have been immensely affected by disasters – orchestrated by Cyclone Ana.

The effects have been proliferated by, among others, lack of preparedness and recovery capacity as well as limited early warning systems.

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