UN decries over-dependence on maize, calls for better structures to overcome climate change

UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller interacts with a flood victim in Chikwawa

The visiting United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller says more needs to be done to help people from flood prone areas build their resilience to natural disasters.

Mueller who is on a mission to the three countries Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe affected by Cyclone Idai for a firsthand experience of the effects of the phenomenon, made the observation after she met the affected people in Chikwawa.

She said she was impressed to see people’s determination to restart their lives, recover and stand on their own without depending on assistance in the mid-term.

“What is important here is that the underlying causes of the chronic food insecurity are also addressed, getting out from the focus on just growing maize and diversifying the agriculture products,” she stressed.

Mueller (in pink jacket) with DODMA's Moleni being briefed on initiatives for flood victims 

She stated that climate crisis is real and has a big impact on countries which are already struggling with various other challenges and emphasised on the need for disaster preparedness.

“It’s also important to build back better, to have houses that don’t collapse in the next flood and to have more drought resistant crops and address the underlying causes for food insecurity,” said the UN envoy.

She applauded efforts by international humanitarian community and Ministry of Agriculture who have provided seeds to help the people plant in the lean season which lasts up to April next year.

While in Chikwawa, she also witnessed a cash distribution exercise from the social cash transfer programme which she observed is the way to go in empowering the affected persons.

People queue for social cash transfer money to help in recovery efforts

According to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) which has been handling and coordinating response for the past three months, a post disaster needs assessment (PDNA) conducted, revealed that $370.5 Million would be required for the reconstruction process.

Principal Secretary for DODMA Wilson Moleni, pointed out that it is pleasing to note that the communities themselves have realised the need to move to safer places with assistance from traditional leaders.

“The people must make a decision to move from low-lying areas that are flood-prone and move to safer areas.

‘The chiefs must support them to identify pieces of land where these people can relocate to” Moleni said.

He said the relocation at Mwalija Village need to be replicated to other districts and that the department already met District Commissioners from other areas on the initiative where resettlement can take place.

Moleni hailed the visit by the UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, which he expressed hope would help in mobilising resources for the reconstruction phase.