Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Long-term planning key to community resilience efforts


It is ironic that, 53 years after independence, we are yet to break away from the grip of hunger, which, due to either manmade or natural factors, continues to wreak havoc in the country.
This has a cost in that, instead of planning around exports, we plan around production and consumption. No wonder, the country continues to import more than it exports. In fact, the country continues to struggle to feed itself.
Sadly, the country’s efforts to shore up food production face another challenge; that of disasters such as floods which in turn lead to food insecurity. As such, while we claim to be independent, we continue to depend on well-wishers to bail us out of the quagmire. This time around, for example, the Chinese government has bailed us out with relief food in disaster prone Nsanje.
We cannot continue living like this. Which is why we agree with Vice-President, Saulos Chilima, that time has come for us to redesign resilience-building interventions if we have to shrug off the monkey of disaster-induced food insecurity.
However, while we further agree with him that the government has a role to play in ensuring that all households affected by disaster, including food insecurity, are assisted, we do not fully subscribe to his idea that we should start directing our resources to resilience-building interventions.
We say so because, for a long time, we have been doing the same but, without a long-term plan, we have been moving in circles. For example, we have tried, with little success, to direct resources to resilience-building interventions through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), which, ironically, is under the Vice- President’s office.
But DoDMA seems to always run on empty coffers as, whenever disaster strikes, it outstretches its arms, ready to receive alms from well-wishers. In an ideal world, DoDMA was supposed to be self-sustaining.
What this means is that we have the necessary institutions but we are short-sighted. We do not plan beyond this year and this has been our undoing all this long.
So, we do not need to redirect our resources to resilience-building interventions; what we need is a long-term plan covering, say, 20 years so that we can be able to say, “in 20 years’ time, we want to do away with the challenge of food insecurity”, instead of believing that well-wishers out there are looking forward to the next disaster to happen in this country, so that they can run all over themselves in their haste to help out.
Only through long-term planning can we be able to overcome challenges we face due to our short-sightedness.

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