Freddy recovery faces glitches

Freddy recovery faces glitches


 t is one year after Cyclone Freddy hit the country, but lack of adequate resources to finance recovery and reconstruction efforts as well as provide assistance to those affected have emerged as key challenges to the efforts.

Besides, there is also resistance by some of the people in disaster-prone areas to move to safer locations.

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has acknowledged the challenges, saying it still requires $680 million to recover and is engaging the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) for assistance.

In Blantyre City, residents of Soche Hill are resisting to move to a safer place identified in Mapanga, according to authorities.

Blantyre City Council chief executive officer Dennis Chinseu, in an interview yesterday, said the challenge is two-fold, one of them being that occupants of the land in Mapanga are demanding compensation while some of those to be moved are also showing resistance.

Part of the damage caused by Cyclone Freddy

He said: “For those at Mapanga, they were just farming  and it was clearly indicated to them that they don’t own the land and, therefore, no compensation. We are now finalising a layout plan for Mapanga to be habitable.

“There is also need for a small road network for accessibility, but also water and electricity. People at Soche are aware that they need to move. Despite some resistance, we have the backing of the law and we will soon be declaring that place as a red zone.”

Chinseu added that more administrative work has been done on the ground, and they plan that everything should be done, and people should move by end of this year.

Senior Chief Kapeni of the area said the people have no choice, but to move to safer places.

However, the chief urged government to ensure that they are helped with resources for the construction process.

In Chiradzulu, village head Mussa, currently based at Mikolongwe after migrating from Mtauchila Village where the whole village was swept away, said they continue to live miserably, much as houses are being constructed.

He said they continue to receive a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag of maize or maize flour each month, but without relish and people are spending time on piecework to survive.

“They gave us 7kg of fertiliser and 4kg of seed to plant, but it was too late and we won’t harvest enough. So, much as we have housing, we need resources to start some businesses and move on,” the chief said.

Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula said they have so far built 45 houses at Phweremwe in Phalombe, 35 houses at Njewa in Mulanje, eight houses in Zomba while others are being constructed in Chiradzulu and have moved 4 000 households from Makhanga to Osiyana in Nsanje.

For the 4 000 households, he said they have relocated a community day secondary school and now plan to move Makhanga Primary School, health post and market once resources are found.

Said Khamula: “In terms of challenges, we still need $680 million for reconstruction and recovery as outlined in the post recovery report. Mostly, partners come in to help and there are no definite figures of how much has come in this far.”

He said people, mostly in rural areas, realise the need to move, but there is reluctance in town, giving an example of Soche in Blantyre where he said donor partners may help to provide resources to start construction of houses at Mapanga.

Under Section 34 of the Disaster Risk Management Act (2023), where a high-risk area, or any part thereof, is declared a prohibited area for human habitation, the commissioner for Dodma shall relocate the people resident in the area to another area.

Where relocation is implemented during a time, other than during an emergency stage of a disaster, it says the commissioner shall give not less than 30 days’ notice, put in place measures to prevent, mitigate and compensate, any negative socio-economic impact of the resettlement on the host community.

Between the 2015/16 and 2022/23 seasons, a succession of one El Niño, four cyclones (Idai, Gombe, Anna and Freddy), and major floods have resulted in significant loss of life, property and livelihoods for the already fragile economy.

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