Japan advises Malawi to focus on disaster prevention instead of response

The outgoing Japanese Ambassador Kae Yanagisawa has advised Malawi to to invest more in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and preparedness describing them as important tools in addressing natural shocks such as floods and drought.

Yanagisawa makes a symbolic presentation to Chimulirenji.-Photo by Lisa Kadango, Mana
Yanagisawa makes a symbolic presentation to Chimulirenji.-Photo by Lisa Kadango, Mana

The diplomat made the remarks in Lilongwe on Tuesday during the official handover of relief items from the people of Japan to the people of Malawi.

Said Yanagisawa: “We need to work more on preparedness and how to avoid than response. Make extra effort to make Malawi cope with natural shocks. Items are of secondary importance, but preparedness is prime.”

Yanagisawa emphasised that she is not against relief items but that preparedness in eventualities should be encouraged as it is an important way of dealing with natural shocks.

“If the people are informed about the change and are better equipped with such change they can minimise the impact of disasters,” she said.

She hailed traditional authorities in areas like Chikwawa who are encouraging people to move out of lower areas to higher places so that they are not hit by same natural shocks again saying such kind of preparedness is important and it is what is wanted to be done.

In his remarks, Vice-President Everton Chimulilenji, who received the items on behalf of Malawi Government, thanked the mayor of Ota City and the ambassador. He said the items will be utilised accordingly.

He also acknowledged the suggestion to focus on preparedness.

“Malawi is a disaster-prone country with common hazards such as floods, prolonged dry spells, pests and disease outbreaks, earthquakes, strong winds, amongst others.  The frequency and magnitude of disasters is increasing in light of the rapid population growth, urbanisation, environmental degradation and effects of climate change,” said Chimulirenji.

He said Malawi has prioritised disaster risk management in its Malawi Growth and Development Strategy to effectively coordinate Disaster Risk Management programmes aimed at building resilience of the nation and communities.

The policy outlines Malawi’s priority areas and strategies to build a nation resilient to disasters. Malawi has also developed a National Resilience Strategy to enhance resilience building efforts.

Secretary to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Wilson Moleni was thankful to the people of Japan for the donation particularly to those affected by Cyclone Idai saying the items will go a long way in addressing the problems that people face when they have been affected by floods.

The donation comprised schools bags, plastic cups and safety mats, has been made possible curtesy of the people of Ota City which is hosting the Malawian team during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games.

As hosts of the Malawian team the Ota City was very much concerned about the situation in Malawi under the heavy rains and Cyclone Idai and decided to make the donation.

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