The Department of Disaster and Management Affairs (DoDMA) has donated 42 phones to the Area Civil Protection Committee (ACPC) members and the Village Civil Protection Committee (VCPC) members in Chikhwawa in order to enhance disaster response and communication in the district.
The handing over ceremony of the Nokia phones comes at a time when it seems no floods will occur in the Lower Shire this year.
Speaking to Malawi24 in an interview, the District’s Assistant Disaster Officer, Francis Kadzokoya commended the initiative saying it will likely enhance issues of early warning and sharing of information to communities living in disaster prone areas in Chikhwawa district.
“The initiative will not help communities alone but also the district officials from the council who will be able to know when a disaster strikes and pass on information to relevant authorities for action,” said Kadzokoya.
According to Kadzokoya, all the ACPC chairpersons who represented all the eleven TAs received the phones and the rest were from areas at villages that were prone to disasters.
He said the committee members were first responders in as far as the search and rescue process was concerned when a disaster occurred and hence needed such support so that they were able to conduct their duties well.
A representative from non-state actors, Cecilia Banda, who is also Projects officer for Red Cross Chikhwawa office said it was necessary for the committee members to observe importance of the phones by ensuring that lives of communities were not at risk.
“Early warning systems were there to save people’s lives and property whenever a disaster struck but it was worrisome to see that some NGOs in the district working on disaster issues were sidelining the necessary structures such as the ACPs as well as the VCPCs by providing them with necessary equipment.”
On his part Cosmass Kholowa, ACPC Chair for Katunga area in the district, said the phones were so helpful in as far as issues of early warning and communication were concerned.
Kholowa said: There were so much disasters happening in our area ranging from floods, heavy winds among others and the phones that we have been provided with today will enhance communication by linking up with our friends within the community as well as the officials at district council.”
DoDMA has donated the phones with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).