By Gabriel-Eddie Njoroge

African Development Bank, which is supporting Malawi with an emergency relief package and measures to combat climate change in the Southern African region, has boosted the country’s recovery and reconstruction plans in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.

A group photo during the meeting
Photo credits: African Development Bank

The bank’s Vice President for Corporate Services and Human Resources, Mateus Magala, led a delegation to Lilongwe to discuss the institution’s intervention plans with public and civil society officials in Malawi.

“We have come to express our support to Malawi and to partner with the Government of Malawi in its ongoing efforts to provide immediate relief and reconstruction in affected sections of the country,” he said.

The officials were informed by Magala that the finance institution had set up an Emergency Recovery Fund, which will disburse US$ 100 million to jumpstart reconstruction efforts in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Planning is also underway by the Bank, to redirect funding, totaling US$ 1.4 million, to the immediate relief effort, reallocated from savings and extensions of ongoing bank projects in Malawi’s water, roads and agriculture sectors.

“The African Development Bank couldn’t have come at a better time, to join us in our efforts which are now focused mainly on providing humanitarian relief and reconstruction…We were looking forward to bumper harvests in Malawi this year, but we have lost our entire crop to the cyclone,” said Goodall E. Gondwe, the Malawian Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

From its Emergency Relief Fund, the Bank has already availed US$250,000 to Malawi, for the emergency food items to avert hunger following the loss of crops damaged by the severe floods.

Through its Climate Fund, the Bank will also release US$150,000 to Malawi to enable authorities to assist communities and internally displaced persons impacted by the cyclone. The Bank’s long-term plans include designing and developing mechanisms for climate insurance and mitigating climate change.

In the southern part of the country villages were submerged in water, close to sixty people died and about 1 million persons across 15 districts have been displaced by the severe floods. Also severely impaired by the cyclone, are the private sector activities and operators in the landlocked nation of about 18 million people.

“Now is the time to talk about long-term and permanent solutions to the problems of floods in Malawi. We need to build houses and new structures but, above all, we ought to take advantage of this calamity to accelerate our irrigation development systems,” Gondwe remarked.

Also discussed was the need for long-term cooperation on economic development and resilience strategies with donors and development partners in Malawi, including the World Bank, World Food Program in Malawi, and top diplomats representing the American, Chinese, Egyptian, German, Japanese, Nigerian, Norwegian and Zimbabwean governments in Malawi.

Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were the countries hit by Cyclone Idai in Mid-March 2019 with Mozambique being the hardest hit, where the cyclone killed about 600 people. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1,600 people were injured. Malawi’s Homeland Security Minister, Nicholas Dausi estimates that about US$365 million will be needed immediately for the reconstruction of bridges, schools, hospitals and homes.