By Patricia Kapulula, MANA
Japanese ambassador to Malawi, Kae Yanagisawa has urged countries prone to disasters to invest more in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and preparedness describing them as important tools in addressing natural shocks such as floods and drought.
He made the remarks in Lilongwe on Tuesday during the official handover of relief items from the people of Japan to the people of Malawi.
Vice President and Minister responsible for Disaster Management Affairs, Everton Chimulirenji received the donation on behalf of the Malawi Government.
Yanagisawa emphasised that she is not against relief items but that preparedness in eventualities should be encouraged as it is an important way of dealing with natural shocks.
“If the people are informed about the change and are better equipped with such change they can minimise the impact of disasters,” she said.
She hailed traditional authorities in areas like Chikwawa who are encouraging people to move out of lower areas to higher places so that they are not hit by same natural shocks again saying such kind of preparedness is important and it is what is wanted to be done.
She observed that if nothing is done and countries which are disaster prone continue relying on relief items they will find it hard to cope with such issues.
Yanagisawa said Japan has been experiencing so many disasters and what it has learnt is that preparedness and risk reduction is effective than response.
“Disasters are not predictable because you are experiencing heavy rains and droughts almost every year and if you are careful about this weather forecast you will be aware of what kind of natural shocks will be coming,” she said.
In 2015 Japan hosted the third world conference on disaster risk reduction from which it learnt of emphasising more on preparedness than response.
Vice President Chimulirenji said prioritised disaster risk management is important in addressing natural shocks and it is for that reason that Malawi Government approved the National Disaster Risk Management Policy in February 2015.
The policy outlines Malawi’s priority areas and strategies to build a nation resilient to disasters.
Secretary to the Vice President and Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Wilson Moleni was thankful to the people of Japan for the donation particularly to those affected by Cyclone Idai saying the items will go a long way in addressing the problems that people face when they have been affected by floods.
Commenting on remarks that countries that are prone to disaster should invest more in DRR Moleni said Malawi is moving towards that direction citing instruments such as the National Resilience Strategy and the Disaster Risk Management policies.
However, he said, risk reduction requires a lot of resources and sometimes there are gaps in financial resources here and there but the country is going towards that direction.
“We are at a good pace as we have policies in place and as we are talking now we are busy with preparation for any potential eventualities in the coming season. So we are working hard towards risk reduction as a country,” he said.
The donation comprised schools bags, plastic cups and safety mats, has been made possible curtesy of the people of Ota City which is hosting the Malawian team during the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games.
As hosts of the Malawian team the Ota City was very much concerned about the situation in Malawi under the heavy rains and Cyclone Idai and decided to make the donation.