Former presidents Joyce Banda and Bakili Muluzi have said there is need for joint efforts if Malawi is to recover from the effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy which has left hundreds dead and thousands destitute.
The two former heads of state said this on Wednesday in their capacity as Goodwill Ambassadors for Tropical Cyclone Freddy’s recovery during a stakeholders’ meeting aimed at mapping a possible direction for a recovery and response plan.
Speaking after the meeting in Blantyre, Banda said views from different stakeholders all suggest that to avoid future disasters, all stakeholders should take part since such matters are multi-sectoral in nature.
“For example, when people build houses in undesignated places, Blantyre City Council can order people to vacate such places and you will find that people are going to court to get an injunction.
“Similarly, you will find that utility providers like Blantyre Water Board and Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) are rendering services in those disaster-prone places in the name of human rights, among others.
“Given this scenario, you would see that there are several stakeholders concerned and they need to work as a unit to avoid devastation caused by disasters such as Cyclone Freddy where hundreds of lives have been lost,” said Banda.
In his remarks, Muluzi said as Goodwill Ambassadors for Tropical Cyclone Freddy’s recovery, their first assignment is to ensure that there is massive awareness and sensitization.
Muluzi has since called on all stakeholders to spread messages relating to the dangers of staying in disaster-prone areas among communities.
Muluzi said survivors need to be given assistance in the camps while waiting for them to recover, saying as ambassadors, they recommend that the survivors be given farm inputs such as seeds and fertilizers for them to plant.
He added that where possible, well-wishers can also build small houses for survivors in safe places where the government can provide land.
Meanwhile, the two former heads of state have advised the government that the post-cyclone recovery plan currently being drafted, should include donors and development partners saying some disasters are due to climate change resulting from industrialization.
Representatives from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), Department of Climate Change and Meteorology Services, police, Malawi Red Cross Society, traditional leaders, health, Blantyre city, and district council officials, among others, were also in attendance.