President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has disclosed that the Tropical Cyclone Freddy sunk more workers into unemployment and poverty, increased their food insecurity and malnutrition.
Chakwera added that the story also reduced workers’ access to health, education, utility, transport, and sanitation services.
He was speaking at Masintha Ground in Lilongwe when he led Malawians in the commemoration of this year’s Labour Day. The day this year was commemorated under the theme: “Natural Disasters, a Threat to Livelihoods and Decent Work: Creating Decent Jobs and Extending Social Protection is Key for Sustainable Recovery”.
But Chakwera was quick to point out that natural disasters are not a threat to employment, but rather an affliction to the nation.
“My understanding of a threat is that it is an impending danger or affliction that hasn’t happened yet. But that is not the situation we face. For us as a nation, natural disasters are not a threat to livelihoods and decent work. Natural disasters are an affliction that has already befallen us. They are not a possibility, but a certainty and a present continuous reality,” said the President.
The Malawi leader therefore urged Malawians to desist from responding to the effects of natural disasters on workers as if the nation is under threat, stressing that the only response that is appropriate is that of Malawi under attack.
“We are under such heavy attack that we need reinforcements from other nations in order to not only mobilize the 107.3 million needed to respond to the humanitarian crisis at hand and the 700 billion needed to adequately recover and reconstruct what has been lost, but we also need the support of other nations to better prepare for and mitigate against the next disaster before it comes. This is why the state of national disaster that I declared on March 13th to call for international support remains in force, and why I will personally use a few upcoming international gatherings of world leaders to directly engage them with specific proposals on how they can support us with the daunting task we have going forward,” said Chakwera.
He observed that the rights of many workers were already under duress before the natural disasters came, particularly for those in the informal economy. He said this therefore calls for collaborative efforts in pursuing and implementing policies and programs that address the challenges of youth employment, decent work environments, protection of workers’ rights and expanding social protection, all as part of our post-disaster recovery plan.
He also directed the Minister of Labour to review the National Job Creation Strategy, which was launched in March 2022 in order to strengthen it to reflect the realities of the post-disaster period Malawi is in.
“That review must include finding a mechanism for leveraging Malawi’s status as a pathfinder country of the Global Accelerator on Decent Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, which is a United Nations initiative I secured us a stake in when I was at the UN General Assembly last year,” so directed Chakwera.