Chakwera tipped on post-disaster recovery

Chakwera tipped on post-disaster recovery

President Lazarus Chakwera continues to lament Malawi’s struggle to recover from the impact of natural disasters and Covid-19, but an economist has said the country needs to secure debt relief to effectively implement post-disaster recovery.

In his address at the International Development Association (IDA) Summit for Heads of State in Kenya yesterday, the President described Malawi as a “miracle”, citing cyclones Ana, Gombe, Freddy and the cholera outbreak as the major disasters apart from grappling with huge debt levels.

Chakwera with fellow African leaders at the IDA summit on Monday

He said his administration has endured and was still recovering from the worst hardships, including the cyclones, El Niño and Covid-19.

Said the President: “In less than 60 months I have been President, Malawi, a nation I found already drowning in unsustainable and toxic levels of debt, has not only suffered the devastation of the Covid pandemic, but before we had any time to recover, was attacked by cyclones Ana and Gombe, back to back.”

But economist Gilbert Kachamba in an interview yesterday urged government to expedite the lobby for debt cancellation as one way to bail the country out of its economic misery.

He said the debt restructuring currently being negotiated cannot work as a solution and also called on government to take climate issues seriously.

Said Kachamba: “Malawi is very prone to various natural calamities that affect its productivity and recently it has been faced with both extreme weather shocks. This is coupled with the unsustainable debt which is around 70 percent of our gross domestic product [GDP].

“All these make it difficult for Malawi to achieve its development agenda and there is a need for serious interventions that can bail out the nation from this misery. It is time we need to start negotiating for debt cancellation. As it is now, debt restructuring cannot help us.”

In a separate interview, governance analyst George Chaima urged the President to demonstrate accountability by giving numbers on how much the country has been recovering through support from development partners.

He said there is life after disasters and people needed to see tangible progress.

Chaima said the leadership should not defend a failing economy by riding on disasters.

He said: “You’ll obviously see there is nothing new from what he said. He said the same at the United Nations, African Union and Southern African Development Community summits.

“But we have seen donors giving Malawi huge sums of money. How much difference has that money brought towards economic recovery?”

The IDA is a member of the World Bank Group that assists the world’s poorest countries in eliminating poverty by offering zero to low-interest loans known as “credits”.  It also offers grants for programmes that facilitate the stimulation of economic growth, reduce inequalities, and overall improve living conditions.

In the speech, Chakwera further hailed the IDA for the $60 million (about K105.1 billion) support for the restoration of Kapichira Power Plant which was damaged by Cyclone Ana in 2022 and the recent $57.62 million (about K101 billion) support for people affected by drought this year.

“So in total, the emergency care we have received inside the IDA Ambulance en route to the hospital has risen from an average of $100 million [about K180 billion] in disbursements four years ago to now around $600 million [about K540 billion] which is a record,” he said.

Kenyan media reported that President William Ruto, during the summit’s opening, called for increased concessional funding from the World Bank.

He called for tripling of IDA’s financing capacity to $279 billion by 2030 while maintaining the essential concessional nature of its financing.

Ruto said that this would not only be a relief for many African and other developing nations facing severe debt crises, but would also make available the much-needed resources to unlock Africa’s vast resources.

World Bank Group president Ajay Banga echoed the sentiments, stressing the need for unwavering global support, particularly from IDA.

A post-summit communique detailed the leaders’ unwavering commitment to strengthen governance, unlock private sector potential for job creation, mobilise domestic resources, and deliver on climate change promises. It said leaders also prioritised increased energy and digital access, alongside enhanced resilience to climate change and conflict.

Currently, IDA supports 75 nations, 39 of them in Africa through grants and highly concessional loans.

The post Chakwera tipped on post-disaster recovery first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Chakwera tipped on post-disaster recovery appeared first on Nation Online.