SPEECH BY THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI, RT. HON. Dr. SAULOS CHILIMA AT THE LAUNCH OF RESILIENCE STUDY REPORT & I-NGO CONSORTIUM LEARNING EVENT ON 25-04-2018 AT CROSS ROADS HOTEL, LILONGWE
.Clement Chinthu Phiri, Secretary to the Office of the Vice President & Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA),
- Ms Maria Macho, UN Resident Coordinator and all UN Agencies present here
- Jen Marshall, Head of DFID Mission in Malawi and various development partners present here
- Mr Colyn Blyth, Chairperson for the INGO Consortium,
- Members of the INGO Consortium
- Colleagues from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party
- Members of the media;
- Ladies and Gentlemen
I feel greatly humbled to be with you today as we launch the resilience study report and also to share experiences and lessons on the work that the INGO Consortium does in Malawi.
As we all know, the economy of Malawi is predominantly agriculture based. The agriculture sector accounts for one-third of our GDP; 80 percent of export revenue; and 64% of employment. Agriculture is our back bone and our pride.
But this status quo has come under a heavy threat in recent years due to climate change. Increasingly, erratic and unpredictable rains and weather systems have placed an enormous burden on food security, nutrition and livelihoods in general.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), between 1990 and 2014, the world recorded over 8,000 weather related disasters each time displacing people, causing significant loss of lives, crops and property. The human and economic toll is certainly enormous and yet all indications seem to suggest that such occurrences will increase with climate change.
In Malawi, in 2016-17, over 40% of the population needed humanitarian assistance, following the El Nino which had devastating impacts on livelihoods and nutrition. This affected our progress to expand inclusive economic growth as outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III.
During the 2017-18 season, over 1 million people were again in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Malawi government believes that strengthened resilience is key to safeguarding the gains that we have so far made as a nation in crystallizing better livelihoods for the people of Malawi. It is in view of this, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, that the Malawi government unveiled the national resilience strategy in 2017, entitled “Malawi National Resilience Strategy: Breaking the Cycle of Food Insecurity”.
The overall anticipated outcome of the strategy is to ensure that Malawi is resilient to economic and environmental shocks and is able to sustain inclusive growth, food security, and improved well-being for all Malawians.
Through this strategy, we seek to ensure that the country transitions from recurrent humanitarian appeals to protective and productive investments in complementary interventions targeting chronically food insecure and poor households, supported by institutional coordination and multi-sectoral planning and implementation.
It is encouraging to notice the support that development partners like DFID are rendering to the Malawi Government towards the attainment of the goals of the National Resilience Strategy. The project being implemented by the INGO Consortium in 10 districts under the banner: “Breaking the Cycle of Humanitarian Assistance through Enhancing Resilience and Shock Responsive Capacity” is a clear manifestation of the support that the Malawi Government is receiving.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is pleasing to note that the resilience components of the project seek to improve household productive capacity, reduce negative coping strategies and increase the household asset base. These are indeed the key tenets of resilience. Resilience must indeed ensure better ability to adapt to changes, anticipate what might happen next and absorb shocks when they come.
The report we are launching today is clearly another significant milestone towards creating resilient communities.
The early lessons and recommendations documented from field practice in the study report will surely go a long way in providing insights and shaping the direction of implementation of the National Resilience Strategy for Malawi.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the Malawi Government commitment towards strengthening resilience in the wake of natural disasters.
My Ministry, in particular, is geared to redouble its efforts to create a country free of chronic vulnerability, food, and nutrition insecurity, where sustainable economic development creates opportunities for everyone. A country and where people are resilient to economic and environmental shocks that affect their lives and livelihoods.
Therefore, allow me to congratulate DFID and the INGO Consortium for developing this report and for the support to government in ensuring that the vision of government through the National Resilience Strategy becomes a reality. In particular, I would also like to thank DFID and the consortium for embracing a culture of documenting and sharing experiences.
It is my hope that the NGOs, development partners and government will join hands in further strengthening this culture to reduce cost through duplication of efforts and unnecessary experimentation.
Before I conclude, let me take this opportunity to pay special tribute to ordinary people doing extra ordinary things to help others struck by disasters across the country.
I have travelled criss-crossing the country, appreciating the impact of disasters and getting assistance to the affected people. During these visits I have seen how loving and compassionate Malawians can be.
I have seen families opening up their homes to those who found themselves homeless after floods. I have seen a family sharing their last meal with victims of disasters.
I have seen traditional leaders, affected by the disasters, demonstrating great leadership by opting to be the last to receive relief items to ensure that their people are served first. I have seen young people risking their lives to give a helping hand as was the case when Mangochi district hospital was gutted by fire.
All these good gestures by our people echo the words of Diane Ackerman who said and I quote:
“We tend to think of heroes only in terms of violent combat. But human beings also perform radical acts of compassion; we just don’t talk about them, or we don’t talk about them as much.” End of quote
On my part, today, I decided to talk about them. When His Excellency President Arthur Peter Mutharika talks about umunthu, this is what exactly he means.
With these remarks, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I now declare the Resilience Study Report by the Consortium officially launched.
I thank you for your attention. May God Bless Us all.