Malawi-China-UNDP cooperation in disaster risk management

21 Jul 2014

imageReps from UNDP meet Salima community. PHOTO: Stephane Jobin, UNDP China

Malawi is prone to climate-related disasters, especially droughts and floods, which have a considerable effect on the vulnerable population of the country. Over the last 3 years, between 1 and 2 million people have been food deficient in different parts in Malawi, despite a nationally produced food surplus. These affected areas observed localized droughts or floods during critical stages of crop (mainly rain-fed maize) growth, and hence crop (maize)  production was affected,  hitting especially the vulnerable population particularly hard. Humanitarian and development efforts have been undertaken, but the problems seem to recur yearly.

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), with support from UNDP through the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Support Programme, is piloting implementation of a community based disaster risk reduction small grants scheme. The scheme enables communities to implement disaster risk reduction interventions which address disaster risks that they face in their areas. Through the support programme 5 projects are being implemented in Phalombe (2), Salima (1) and Karonga (2). The scheme is open to community based organisations, civil protection committees and NGOs, and has enabled the department to assist communities to address problems which they face due to disasters. Through Malawi-China-UNDP Cooperation in DRM, DoDMA would like to increase the number of projects to be implemented.

From 10 to 16 June 2014, UNDP Malawi Country Office hosted a team from UNDP China Country Office who were in the country to meet with relevant stakeholders and plan next steps for the Malawi-China-UNDP Cooperation in Disaster Risk Management pilot project.

In an interview with UNDP Malawi, the Assistant Country Director for UNDP China, Ms. Merriden Varrall, explained that the government of Malawi will work with UNDP and China to pilot projects with local communities in disaster risk reduction and management.

“The pilot sites will be in the 15 identified disaster prone districts in Malawi, and selected based on local needs as assessed through the UNDP and Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) co-run Disaster Management Support Programme. However, the site has not yet been chosen,” said Ms. Varrall.

According to Mr. James Chiusiwa, Director in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, this project is very beneficial to Malawians.

“This project is intended at supporting community based organisations (CBOs), civil protection committees (CPCs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to implement community based disaster risk reduction interventions which will contribute towards reducing the incidents and impacts of disasters in the targeted areas. It will, therefore, assist the people of Malawi in the targeted areas by reducing the damage that usually occurs to their houses, crops and household property by disasters such as floods, thereby protecting their livelihood” Mr. Chiusiwa explained.

The project is being designed so that cooperation among Malawi, UNDP and China can provide support to livelihoods and resilience-building initiatives at community level, and help achieve the nation’s long-term development goal. UNDP Malawi’s role will be to work with the Malawi Government and local Chinese counterparts to develop the project proposal, oversee the project implementation, and monitor and evaluate the project.

Ms Varrall also pointed out that cooperation among Malawi, China and UNDP on a concrete project is new for everybody, so there is no practice to follow, and every step has to be carefully thought through to make sure that the new approach is creating real benefits for the Malawian people.

Projects will have the potential for replication and scaling-up following and based on the project evaluation, and will provide the basis for policy advice at national level. The project will commence after all the preparatory work has been done, and is expected to have a duration of two years.