The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) says if the country wants to reduce disaster risks, there is need for mindset change in the implementation of disaster risk management programmes.
Charles Kalemba who is DoDMA commissioner made the call on Tuesday 26th October, at the opening of a three-day ‘5th Biennial Southern Africa Society for Disaster Reduction (SASDiR) conference in Blantyre.
He said the country and Africa at large have been hit hard by disasters year-in, year-out without thinking of lasting solutions, hence his call for mindset change amongst individuals and nations.
The commissioner continued to say Malawi and the African continent should wake up from the slumber and start looking at each and every hazard and see how to navigate around it and turn it into an opportunity.
“This far, we have not done very well as a region and a continent. This is why we continue experiencing the same hazards. We also need to take mindset change seriously, all of us must change the way we think, most of the times we think the world will dance around us, which is not the case.
“We need to wake up from the slumber, and come up with tangible solutions to the challenges we are facing as individuals, communities, councils, nations, regions and Africa. we cannot continue to be hit by disasters left and right and continue to use the same old methods or approaches to protect ourselves,” said Kalemba.
In his opening remarks, Kalemba further said it is very unfortunate that business in most African countries has come to a standstill because of the Russia-Ukraine war where some raw materials come from including wheat, and has described the development as an insult to the continent.
“Are you sure the whole Africa should be crying for wheat from Ukraine and Russia, does that make sense? No, that’s why we are saying there is need to change the legal and policy frameworks as well as mindset change for meaningful socio-economic development,” he added.
In a separate interview, SASDiR Chairperson Professor Dewald van Niekerk who is also the Head of the African Centre for Disaster Studies at South Africa’s North West University, said the SADC region and Africa at large have all what it takes to reduce disaster risks and building resilience of the most vulnerable communities.
Van Niekerk further said there is an underlying text that disaster risk is the responsibility of the government, which he said is not the case and there is need for multiple role plays and multiple focus to minimize disaster risks around the continent.
“The major challenge is that we have very much limited capacity within the right environment, we also tend to focus on disaster risk not as a complex issue which needs to be addressed by multiple sectors.
“We need to understand issues we sit with, we have enough scientific knowledge on multiple hazards that affect us, we know the seasonality and the context of natural hazards. We need to bring communities into the fold and address their needs first,” said Niekerk.
The conference, which has brought together academics, researchers and disaster practitioners among others, has been organized to review progress in the implementation of continental and global disaster risk reduction frameworks.
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