Malawi Parliament Passes Disaster Risk Manage Bill as country recounts impacts of Cyclone Freddy

Friday 21 April 2023

Parliament, on 12th April 2023, passed the long-awaited Disaster Risk Management Bill which replaces the Disaster Relief Preparedness Act of 1991. The Bill, which would have taken even much longer if it were not for the devastating impact of cyclone Freddy, provides some ray of hope in terms of systematic response to disasters. Some key provisions include:

1.    New bill also proposes the establishment of the office of the Commissioner for Disasters and a Disaster Risk Management Trust Fund.

2.   Establishment of the National Disaster Risk Management Committee (NDRMC) to be chaired by Secretary to the President and cabinet but will also comprise of Principle Secretaries from key ministries, Malawi Human Rights Commission, DRM experts, Red Cross and Two CSO members.

3.    Those collecting relief on behalf of Disaster victims will have to report to the Office of the Commissioner of Disasters, disclose the source and account for evert item/funds administered by themselves.

4.    Providing false information to obtain relief as well as diverting or selling relief items could lead to fines ranging between 10 to 20 million Kwacha or face a jail term of between 2 -3 years.

5.   Government to declare certain areas High Risk areas and shall relocate all people occupying such places as determined by the commissioner, responsible minister and in consultation with minister of lands.

Save the children in collaboration with its strategic partners namely Civil Society Network on Climate Change, and National Youth Network on Climate Change have been pushing for this Bill for more than five years. The next advocacy steps will be to engage on effective implementation through awareness to children, women, and communities as at large. We will do further analysis to identify potential gaps as well particularly related to protection of children’s rights.