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CDEDI seeks light on Cyclone Freddy recovery plan…pens DoDMA

By Iommie Chiwalo

CDEDI officials inspecting one of the camps

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has written Commissioner for Department of Disaster Management Affairs to seek more light on implementation of recovery plan.

In a letter that we have seen, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa has highlighted that Malawians have the right to know how much money is available in the Disaster Risk Management Trust Fund.

He said the demand is based on statutes as provided by Disaster Risk Management Act
of 2023, which President Lazarus Chakwera assented to on June 7, 2023 and was
subsequently gazetted on July 21, 2023.

Namiwa says his request is in line with the Access to Information (ATI) Act, and has since demanded that DoDMA should update on the status of the recovery plan.

He says the update should include physical inspection of some parts of the Southern Region that were hit hard by cyclone Freddy, more especially the Muloza-Sukasanje-Chiringa road that connects Mulanje and Phalombe to the east.

In a letter, Namiwa has included the findings during a recent media tour which established that those left the camp voluntarily are surviving on wild tubers, including unripen mangoes and papaws since they lost their livelihoods including crops and soil, therefore they cannot afford to buy maize at MK30,000 per 50-kilogramme bag.

He said despite the colour and pomp displayed during the launch of the housing project, only four dwelling units have been constructed in Chiradzulu under the Football Association of Malawi (FAM), NBS Bank and Red Cross.

“In Nsanje and Chikwawa the survivors are being evicted from the evacuation centers and in the worst case scenario, tent owners have threatened to bring them down. It is also worrisome to note that despite losing everything including crops and land, which was washed away, and the Disaster Risk Management Act declaring such areas illegal for settlement, survivors are reportedly being asked to buy their own land for relocation,” he said.

In exercising its watchdog role, CDEDI recently organized a media tour to Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Phalombe, Nsanje and Chikwawa to appreciate the living conditions of the survivors of the devastation caused by cyclone Freddy almost five months down the line.

Namiwa says it is regrettable to inform Malawians that situation on the ground is dire now, considering the fact that in the Southern Region rains commence the first week of October.

The CDEDI Executive Director laments that some Cyclone Freddy survivors are still in camps in all the visited districts despite the three months maximum evacuation period stipulated in the Act.

He has also called for an address on serious allegations of diversion and outright theft and misappropriation of relief items that were recorded where most of the survivors accused District Councils of the vice.

During the media tour it has been established that major roads that got cut off still wear the temporary soil and small stones filled with
poles as temporary bridges and this is the case just few weeks prior to the 2023/2024 rainy reason.

All the roads and major public infrastructure that got damaged are yet to be renovated.

There is no response from the Commissioner for Department of Disaster Management Affairs Charles Kalemba apart from confirming that his office has really received a letter from CDEDI.

There have been reports of corruption among DoDMA officials to the extent that well wishers opted to go through independent individuals when distributing relief items.

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