National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework 2010-2015

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Malawi faces multiple hazards in both rural and urban areas, which include floods, heavy storms, droughts, dry spells, epidemics, fire incidents, landslides, earthquakes and HIV and AIDS. Between 1974 and 2003, these hazards cumulatively affected 25 million people making the country one of the worst affected amongst the poor countries based on mean annual number of affected per 100,000 people. Environmental degradation, poverty, rapid urbanization, and lack of effective disaster risk reduction efforts have compounded the vulnerability of the population to hazards and consequently, exacerbating the disasters. Disasters play an important role in increasing poverty of rural and urban households and can explain larger geographical distribution of poverty in the country. They erode the ability of national economy to invest in key social sectors which are important to reducing poverty. For example, the southern region has the highest concentration of poor people and at the same time experiences most severe forms of disasters, such as flooding and droughts. Major disasters have had substantial budgetary impacts, resulting in additional unplanned expenditure, widening fiscal deficits and increased domestic borrowing and thus, in rising domestic interest rates and additional inflation2. The nature and pattern of weather related hazards is changing as a result of climate change - becoming more frequent, intense and unpredictable. For example between 1970 and 2006 Malawi experienced 40 weather related disasters, but 16 of these occurred after 1990. More importantly, the number of people affected by these disasters has increased sharply since 1990. The geographical coverage of floods and droughts has also increased. For instance, prior to 2001, only nine districts in Malawi were classified as flood-prone; in 2001, 16 districts were affected. Changes in other climatic and non climatic variables are also increasing peoples vulnerability to high impact hazards. In an effort to understand the changes in the nature and pattern of these hazards, Malawi prepared a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) that clarifies the impact of climate change on disasters. The Government realizes that any aspirations to reduce poverty in the country in a sustainable manner will require strategic and proactive investment in disaster risk reduction.