President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday signalled a balanced response to the devastation that Cyclone Freddy has dumped on Malawi: raising resources for rescue efforts and helping survivors while also looking to rebuild shattered infrastructure and people’s lives.
As he thanked various local and international partners in Mangochi yesterday for helping his government in dealing with Cyclone Freddy’s destructive aftermath, the President indicated that the struggle against the storm that has killed more than 447 people and displaced thousands is too great for the resources mobilised so far.
Speaking when he cheered some of the cyclone survivors who are camping at St Augustine 2 Primary School in Senior Chief Chowe in Mangochi District, Chakwera also praised various players for the swift assistance that has come to date.
“Others have sent in both food and non-food items while others have sent us helicopters for search and rescue. This means we have good neighbours who have demonstrated that they are always with us.”
The President further said he has talked to the World Bank Africa Region vice-president for further support.
He said the bank has been pumping into the country resources for the Social Cash Transfer Programme, a crucial initiative that helps put money in the pockets of struggling households.
The President said he has also received several condolence messages from other presidents within Africa and beyond.
“As it is now, food and accommodation are key, but more importantly, we need to think about how we can build back better and on this I am talking to responsible offices so that we think of how best we can bring back our roads and other lost infrastructure,” he added.
He also called for concerted efforts to achieve the objectives of his recently launched Operation Tigwirane Manja.
During the visit, the President interacted with people affected by Cyclone Freddy in their respective camps and inspected infrastructure destroyed by the storm.
His first stop was at Mpondasi Bridge, which has been submerged in flood waters thereby affecting travel on the Mangochi-Monkey Bay Road.
Thereafter, Chakwera visited people displaced by the cyclone-induced floods at St Augustine II Primary School camp at M’baluku Trading Centre.
The President assured communities of sustained government support.
Minister of Local Government Richard Chimwendo Banda urged those affected and those concerned not to politicise support but instead promote unity.
Paramount Chief Kawinga of the Yao people hailed the President for visiting the affected communities, saying such gesture instills hope in the survivors.
He said: “Your demonstration of the status of the disasters, your visit has attracted the attention of other well-wishers whose support has already started trickling in.”
In Mangochi, 74 910 people have been affected with five deaths.
There are 33 camps and so far 11 600 hectares of maize and rice have been affected on top of 22 800 livestock lost in the aftermath of the cyclone in the district.