Communities living in the
area of Traditional Authority Makhwira, Chikhwawa District of the Lower Shire River Valley in Southern Malawi have benefitted from disaster risk management infrastructure which comprises a safe haven and eight demonstration houses.
The infrastructure was built as a component of the Living with Floods project that is sponsored by UN-Habitat in Malawi and the handover took place on Friday 3 August 3012. The Guest of Honour was the Principal Secretary for Housing in the Ministry of Lands and Housing Ms Elsie Tembo. The function was also attended by the Commissioner and Principal Secretary for Disaster Management Affairs Mr Geoffrey Kanyinji, UN-Habitat, UNDP, Habitat for Humanity Malawi representatives and traditional leaders.
The project aimed at building capacity of communities who live in flood prone areas to build safer and better housing as one of the means to reduce vulnerability to disasters through awareness, advocacy, on the job training of local artisans, construction of a safe haven and demonstration houses and production of an illustrated building manual for use by communities and others.
Speaking during the occasion, Ms Tembo urged the area residents to utilize the skills and knowledge gained under the project to build houses and other public infrastructure that are resilient to floods and other disasters.
'In view of recent disasters where houses have been destroyed due to floods, earthquakes and strong winds, we need to embrace safer and better ways for construction of houses to ensure that through better house construction, we can reduce disaster risk,' she said.
Ms Tembo expressed Malawi Government appreciation to UN-Habitat for supporting this first project of its type in Malawi and called for continued partnership in working towards enhanced awareness, dissemination and advocacy to promote this concept in other affected communities in Malawi.
Traditional Authority Makhwira in whose area the project has been implemented observed that in the past schooling was disrupted as people used schools as rescue centres. He said with the coming of the safe haven, the schools will no longer be used as rescue centres. He undertook to work with his fellow community leaders in promoting better and safer house construction following what had been learnt from the project.
The function was also attended by UN-Habitat and UNDP representatives, district council officials, traditional leaders and members of the community.
The project received financial and technical support of UN-Habitat and was implemented in partnership with the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, Ministry of Lands and Housing, Chikhwawa District Council and Habitat for Humanity Malawi.