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Disaster Act review delays frustrate CSOs

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Civil Society Network on Climate Change (Cisonecc) Monday asked the government to start investing in disaster risk management other than focusing on humanitarian responses when disasters strike.

Briefing journalists in Lilongwe, Cisonecc National Coordinator Julius Ng’oma said, since 1991, the country has been focusing on disaster response through an Act of Parliament that was gazetted long ago.

He said there was a need for the government to review relevant pieces of legislation and put Malawi in a position to manage disasters.

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“The government must put in place strategies that can help us address these issues. Over the years, the focus has been responding to disasters but there are inherent weaknesses in this kind of approach because we are not putting in place systems that can help survivors bounce back from disaster.

“It is disheartening that the Disaster Risk Management Bill is still in draft form, 10 years after processes were finalised. We are calling on the government to enact this bill. The time is now. If we had the necessary Act in place, we would not be talking about haphazard responses to recent disasters such as Tropical Cyclone Ana,” he said.

Department of Disaster Management Affairs spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said the department submitted the bill to the Ministry of Justice in July last year.

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“We have been making follow-ups with the ministry and they indicated that they were still working on it. The last time we made a follow-up with the ministry was last week,” he said.

Approximately 900,000 people have been affected by floods, with 190,429 people being displaced and at least 46 people losing their lives to disasters.

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