Malawi Ready to Respond to Looming Cyclone Chalane, Disasters - Dodma

Tropical Cyclone (file photo).
31 December 2020

Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) on Wednesday announced measures to deal with the impending Tropical Cyclone Chalane which is already in the Country.

Weather experts do not know yet the amount of power Cyclone Chalane would unleash when it makes landfall to the country as it is in neighbouring Mozambique.

Director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, Jolamu Nkhokwe said the onset of any rainfall season is a tropical cyclone season, saying they are a group of thunderstorm bound together in the ocean.

He said almost all of the country's 28 districts will be affected by heavy rains and floods in the next seven days due to the Cyclone Chalane which is accompanied by winds moving at 17 kilometres per hour.

Commissioner of Disaster James Chiusiwa told a news conference in Lilongwe that government has set aside K2.4 billion from the K2.2 trillion 2020/21 National Budget to deal with disasters this year alone.

He said Dodma will utilise the K500 million first tranche from the approved K2.4 billion allocation.

"We are not panicking. We already developed a national response plan and we also have requests from [district] councils to draw the contingency plan on how they should deal with disasters," said Chiusiwa.

He said the Dodma coordinates the development of a multi-hazard national contingency plan every year which is a preparedness tool for the country to effectively respond to disasters that may be experienced.

"The department has deployed a search and rescue (SAR) team comprising officers from the Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service, Marine Department and Fire Services to Chikwawa District in readiness for any possible operations to save lives in Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts and surrounding areas.

"On the other hand, the Air Force is on standby in case of any need for deployment to assist in the rescue operations. In addition, with support from Malawi Red Cross Society, prepositioned search and rescue teams are training district teams in Chikwawa and Karonga in search and rescue," said Chiusiwa.

Chiusiwa disclosed that the department has since activated the National Contingency Plan and all 11 clusters, namely Coordination, Communication and Assessment; Health; Search and Rescue; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Shelter and Camp Management; Education; Agriculture; Food Security; Nutrition; Protection; and Transport and Logistics.

The Commissioner said the Public Communication Cluster has developed messages to raise awareness to the public on Cyclone Chalane and what was expected of communities at risk, to save lives and property with emphasis on calling people in flood-prone areas to move upland.

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