Mwapata Institute Recommends Permanent Resettlement for Flood Survivors
A research think-tank, Mwapata Institute, has recommended short, medium, and long-term interventions to assist in the recovery process of people in the Lower Shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje who recently suffered devastating flood effects.
The recommendations are contained in a report released Tuesday in Lilongwe after three weeks of rapid assessment of how the disasters have affected the livelihoods and agricultural systems of people in the two districts.
Mwapata Institute Executive Director Williams Chadza observed the majority of people in the areas need a starter pack to pick up their lives. He told us people lost all they had.
“The floods started at night and the victims were caught unawares such that they could not rescue any of their food stocks because water levels were high and fierce. They only managed to rescue themselves.” Said Chadza.
He gave an example of a family in Chikwawa that lost 12 bags of maize during the floods.
According to Mwapata Institute’s assessment, a total of 42,276.7 hectares of crop fields were affected in Chikwawa and 12,981 hectares in Nsanje.
“The floods came when most crops were in the vegetative stage and most farmers had already applied fertilizers. Most crops were silted, washed away, submerged or lodged by floods.”
In the report, Mwapata also says the floods affected an estimated 4,000 cattle in Nsanje. Some households have resorted to distress selling of their livestock for survival and for fear of theft while owners are in camp.
As a short-term intervention, Mwapata Institute recommends the need for swift support with agricultural production inputs, including seeds, pesticides, and livestock.
Production support is urgently needed to take advantage of the dimba season and alluvial deposits from floods.
“This type of support is important because it will lessen the burden on humanitarian relief once households start harvesting their crops”
The research organization says there is a need to rehabilitate and strengthen infrastructure including feeder roads, main roads, bridges, irrigation schemes, schools, and others destroyed or shaken by floods as short-term solutions.
This, the organization feels, is important to reconnect affected households to their economic livelihoods including markets and medical facilities.
Mwapata Institute recommends a permanent resettlement scheme for households in Chikwawa and Nsanje, especially those in flood-prone areas as a long-term solution.
Said Chadza, “with climate change, the occurrence, frequency, and severity of floods in Chikwawa and Nsanje are likely to continue. Therefore, we recommend that households in low-lying places should be moved upland to avoid future disasters.”
The relocated households should be allowed to maintain their low-laying lands for agricultural production while residing in upper lands.
But the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) resettlement is the last resort after all other ways have failed.
Commissioner for DoDMA Charles Kalemba told us not all areas that experience floods are actually flood-prone. He added flooding in some areas could be averted by dredging rivers and constructing dikes along rivers.
Said Kalemba, “we need to first of all question why the area is flooding. Some of the floods are man-made, because of siltation and garbage going into the rivers, some rivers have become shallow.
What we need now is to dredge the rivers. This has not been done for many years.”
He further said another way we can avoid flooding is to construct dikes along rivers.
According to Kalemba flooding of some areas is because rivers have lost course hence the need to re-course them.
Lower Shire districts of Nsanje have heavily suffered from two successive floods this year brought by Tropical Storm Ana and Tropical Cyclone Gombe.