21 January 2019

Malawi: Relocation of People From Disaster Prone Areas Flops

Chikwawa — Chikwawa District Assistant Disaster Officer Francis Kadzokoya has expressed concern that efforts to have people in disaster prone areas relocate to safer places has flopped due to resistance of the victims.

Kadzokoya raised the concern in an interview with Malawi News Agency (Mana) on Saturday.

He said since 2015 when the district was heavily hit by floods, nobody has relocated to higher and safer place.

Kadzokoya said government agencies, chiefs and other partners in the district have made efforts to allocate areas and provide some amenities such as water to such communities.

He said even some traditional leaders have not been supportive of the idea of relocation.

"It is unfortunate that since 2015 when floods occurred, nobody has shown any interest to move out of disaster prone areas to higher grounds," Kadzokoya said.

"Former Traditional Authority Kasisi provided land and one NGO came in to provide the communities with boreholes but nobody moved an inch," he added.

Kadzokoya, however, attributed the situation to chieftainship issues saying people were reluctant to shift because some local leaders are afraid of losing their authority.

"Some people say they would want to have social amenities like schools and hospitals. But government set to provide if they adhere to relocation plans.

Speaking in a separate interview with Mana, Malawi Red Cross Society Project Officer for Chikwawa, Cecilia Banda said the society's mandate in times of disasters stops at response and mitigation.

Banda said Red Cross was equally concerned that people were still clinging to some areas prone to floods thereby being perennial victims.

"It's a pity that people don't want to relocate. It is even sad that such interventions of relocation still receive negative response.

"But as partners, we shouldn't relent in our efforts of complementing government," she said.

Traditional Authority Ngowe acknowledged the challenge facing relocation issues saying some people had to go back to their respective areas even when they were relocated to safer places.

"I think government and other stakeholders should continue with civic education and awareness campaigns.

"I am sure that with time, the local leaders will understand the importance of relocation," he said.

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