What will Malawians do differently against the next Cyclone?

Locals of Mtauchira village walks past a home which was damaged by a mudslide in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy in Blantyre, Malawi on Thursday. (Reuters). Source: TRT

As Malawians, what will we do to mitigate against the devastation and havoc which future natural disasters such as Cyclone Freddy will try to wreck on Malawi?

Although some people will say the dust has not yet settled, I think we need to start asking these important questions now.

Because this is not the first time that heavy rainfall/ floods have hit our country & caused fatalties & injuries, and displaced tens of thousands of Malawians.

Although I’m tempted, I’m not going to list to you all the previous times we have been here in the past, but I’ll let technology do some basic research. Here’s a response from ChatGPT:

So, you would have thought that after all the previous tragedies, irrespective of the exact stats, we would have at least learned something, and begun to put in place measures to mitigate against loss of life, injury and damage to property and wildlife?

But it seems to me that not much has been learned from all the previous floods, and not enough has been done to prepare against such natural disasters.

You, see as much as raising money to help victims is commendable, and absolutely necessary, I’m of the persuasion that what is better than such selfless actions is raising money for Flood Defences; to protect and secure lives, and peoples livelihoods BEFORE THE DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE.

Why not? It’s not a like for like comparison, but we often and wisely put burglar bars onto the windows and doors of our houses ….. BEFORE thieves attack….it’s a precautionary measure that reduces the level of risk…

Now, I’m not saying it is possible to anticipate exactly how such disasters will play out, and prepare 100%, but there’s a lot which we could do as a country, within our means, which we’ve not been doing, or at least not been doing enough of. And that complacent attitude needs to change. NOW.

The way we build our houses for example has to change. And the way we construct drainage needs radical and fundamental change.

How effective are drainage systems in mitigating flood losses? (ScienceDirect)

Further, and this is long overdue, but this is now time to introduce a real aternative to charcoal, because cutting down trees and deforestation is literally killing us.

And for those who look for opportunities to play politics, this is not time for fingerpointing or politicking. Instead, of all the mistakes of the present government (of which there are many), this is the time to collectively rethink and implement a massive overhaul in the way we do certain things, from agriculture to road construction and beyond.

The rebuild has to bring together all sections of society (from engineers and architects to teachers, farmers and civil society), to move quickly in starting projects that will secure and protect all the communities affected (including those which are low-lying, and so vulnerable) against future floods and adverse weather conditions.

Otherwise, it would be extremely sad and unfortunate, if in 2 or 3 years time, we find ourselves stricken and amidst another disaster yet again, struggling to help our own people while begging foreign countries to come to our aid…

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