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Saulos Chilima hits at government institutions

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Vice-President Saulos Chilima has urged government institutions to respect laws of the land through enforcement and not promote lawlessness.

Chilima made the remarks on Monday when he officially opened the National Disaster Risk Management Platform Conference in Lilongwe.

The Veep said it is evident that Malawi is not making strides and needs to change the situation in building a resilient nation as the country continues to have disasters year in, year out.

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“As players and partners in disaster risk management, we seem not to be doing enough. For most of you from the civil society and government, you have tended to concentrate in certain geographical areas leaving other equally vulnerable areas unattended,” he said.

He said many players in disaster risk management work “on the assumption that certain areas, due to their low risk rating, do not deserve attention”, as such, “very few organisations, if any, are currently working in urban areas to address urban risks and vulnerability”.

“The flood disaster in Mzuzu [this year] and other areas should, therefore, be a wake-up call for disaster risk management stakeholders, city councils and everyone else so that we should start doing something to address urban risks and vulnerability.

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“For city councils, you should start ensuring that urban structure plans are adhered to through enforcement. Let us respect the laws of the land and not promote lawlessness. Don’t provide social services in such areas,” he said.

Chilima said he was shocked when he visited flood victims in Mzuzu to note that people who have settled in uninhabitable areas such as river banks in Masasa, for example, were provided with electricity and piped water by Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and the water board.

“And the moment we do that because these are government institutions, we are legalising the settlements,” he said.

He reiterated the need for mindset, adding that it is time the country blended action with the political will, which he said could be overflowing.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Malawi, Mia Seppo, said since the launch of the platform, Malawi has experienced two significant crises from which the country can generate lessons and experiences that the platform would translate into action and improve management of crises.

“The postmortem of the 2015 floods demonstrated a number of areas where Malawi could have prepared and responded better, and these need to be central to the deliberations of the DRM platform, given the projected La Nina,” Seppo said.

National Platform for Disaster Risk Management was launched in 2013 as the country witnesses an increase in disasters related to climate change such as floods and drought.

The platform serves as a coordination mechanism to enhance multi-stakeholder collaboration and coordination for sustainability of disaster risk management activities through a consultative and participatory process in line with the implementation of the National Disaster Risk Management Policy.

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