Malawi will benefit from a UN-Habitat regional project to build urban populations’ resilience to climate change in South-eastern Africa
The initiative targets the colonial capital, Zomba, as well as Morondava in Madagascar, Chokwe in Mozambique and Moroni in Comoros.
The Adaptation Fund is bankrolling the K10 billion four-year project launched in a webinar in line with Covid-19 precautions.
The works include upgrading the cities’ disaster risk management structures as cyclones, floods, droughts, disease outbreaks and other climate-related disasters become more frequent and devastating.
In an interview national project manager Stern Kita said Malawi will receive about K1.5 billion to establish a city-wide early-warning system to reduce the impacts of floods. This includes the installation of automated water gauges and sirens along Mponda, Naisi, Mulunguzi and Likangala Rivers.
Other interventions include the construction of multipurpose evacuation centres in Likangala, Chambo and Sadzi wards as well as the rehabilitation of existing drainage channels that feed into Likangala and the Mulunguzi rivers.
The old capital will also get improved community waste management centres in Sadzi, Mtiya, Masongola and Chinamwali wards.
UN-Habitat will support the training of relevant staff and the development of national policies and guidelines for assessing impacts of climate change.
Speaking during a webinar marking the launch of the project, James Chiusiwa, director of disaster risk reduction in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, said the government is committed to building safe, green and resilient cities.
The project is among pioneer resilience interventions for urban and semi-urban areas, a key priority amid worsening climate shocks.
“Addressing urban risks and vulnerabilities is important for many reasons as key drivers of our economy are concentrated in urban areas, where vital government and industrial infrastructure is also located, “ he said.
Zomba City mayor Benson Bulla said as disasters negatively affect the city’s development, poor drainage and rising deforestation have increased the old capital’s vulnerability to climatic shocks.
UN-Habitat director of global solutions division Raf Tuts said the United Nations agency will ensure the project benefits target populations whose safety, security, and livelihoods are hit hard by climate change.
He said: “Today, countries and cities that are already cracking under the burden of multi-tiered hazards are pushed further to their limits due to the global Covid-19 outbreak.
“ Cities now have to think about preparing for natural disasters with a coronavirus lens. This will require new and innovative approaches to disaster risk reduction, for example considering physical distancing and hygiene” said Tuts.
In March 2019, severe floods caused by Cyclone Idai affected nearly one million people, causing damages valued at K172.6 billion and economic losses worth K 7.8 billion.
Malawi ratified the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to reduce economic losses, damage and disruption caused by disasters by 2030.