Forty-five houses worthy K500 million have been handed over to victims of Cyclone Freddy in Phalombe district under Chakwera’s innovative Tigwirane Manja initiative. The initiative came about in President Chakwera’s quest to involve other stake holders to compliment Government’s efforts in recovering the nation from the damage that was left behind by Cyclone Freddy that hit the country in early March this year (2023).
The scale of devastation that Cyclone Freddy caused in Malawi was historically monumental and shattering. The witnessed loss of human life, destruction of property and suffering of survivors was billed by the United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malawi, Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, as the human face of the global climate crisis. For example, in Mulanje district alone, the disaster left 25, 000 houses destroyed with 151 people found dead while 217 still missing and are now presumed dead, and 147 injured.
Beyond individual homes, public infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, electricity power generation stations, electricity transmission grid and other infrastructure providing essential services to the people got ravaged. The Government was faced with the daunting task to manage the crisis and initiate recovery at both individual and national level.
According to the 2023 Tropical Cyclone Freddy Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report, the disaster resulted in a loss of $506.7 million (over K500 billion). The report estimates that the government would require $680.4 million (over K700 billion) for the recovery and reconstruction process.
Immediately, the Malawi President declared a state of national disaster that was hoped to induce global response towards the crisis. Different stakeholders both local and international activated their response and supported government’s efforts to cushion the survivors in the short term.
The President further devised a strategy to achieve long-term aid for the survivors of the tragedy aiming at restoring their lost survival essentials focusing mostly on housing needs and their capacity to be economically active. He came up with a scheme named Tigwirane Manja, an initiative in which many companies in the private and public sector, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders immediately began responding to in building climate resilient houses.
The Malawi leader saw the moment as a chance for all Malawians of good will to unite for the purpose of serving and saving the country. With that in mind, he invited all living former Presidents of the country to a meeting where common cause for the people would be discussed. Former Presidents Dr. Bakili Muluzi and Dr. Joyce Banda showed up. Only Professor Peter Mutharika declined to show up, claiming that the situation did not need leader other than technocrats to solve. He received wide condemnation for this, but that is how Mutharika is minted. He never relates himself with the suffering of Malawians.
Mtharika’s no-show notwithstanding, President Chakwera went ahead to appoint the two former Presidents who showed up as goodwill ambassadors for the project. As former Heads of State and Government of Malawi, these individuals established networks of friendship with capable individuals and institutions across the globe which could be moved into extending their help through their appeals. It was time for Malawians to benefit from the networks that the former Heads of State and Government established for themselves when serving the country.
President Chakwera gave the two former Presidents the Government’s permission, in their capacity as Malawi’s Goodwill Ambassadors for the Tigwirane Manja initiative, to source funds and implement a project of building homes for the Cyclone Freddy survivors.
Ten homes houses were built in the initial phase of the initiative, which the two former President’s launched at Mulanje’s Traditional Authority Njema. Later on, the Goodwill Ambassadors, delivered another pack in Phalombe where they also handed over 17 houses at Mchenga Village, Traditional Authority (TA) Phweremwe.
Yesterday, the initiative delivered another statistic of 45 houses which was handed over to survivors in Phalombe district. Dr. Muluzi’s network of friends whom he created during his time as President of the country came through for him when he reached out to them as a Goodwill Ambassador for the country. His UK-based Nigerian friend, Dozy Mmobuosi, responded to Muluzi’s plea by providing K500 million support for the initiative.
Muluzi disclosed that Mmobuosi also committed to provide beds, mattresses and furniture for the households as well as to bring solar electricity in the area. Mmobuosi also pledged to bring back the economy of people of Mchenga Village by empowering women, saying he would discuss with some authorities in the district “on a sustainable way for them to have food all the time” — adding that he is committed to further construct 131 houses for the affected people in the village. Here we can see the wisdom in President Chakwera in recognizing that the retired Presidents have the potential to source impactful help for the sake of Malawians. Sad Mutharika never saw this and decided to remain isolated in his island of no problems.
According to the Goodwill Ambassadors, Dr Bakili Muluzi and Dr Joyce Banda, 59 houses will be built in Chiradzulu for the Cyclone Freddy survivors there. In her remarks, Dr. Banda said the Goodwill Ambassadors have a daunting task to meet the high demand of those in need of houses. Thanks to efforts and networks of Dr. Joyce Banda, the initiative delivered 14 houses in Zomba on 12th September this year. Dr. Banda credited the financial support to her friend whom she only identified as Ann Gloagg.
Further, on 10th November 2023, the initiative also handed over other climate-resilient houses that were built under the initiative with funding from MOSAIC GLOBAL whose Director, Ms Kim Mucnum, raised the money for the initiative.
Minister of Lands Deus Gumba, who has been among Government officials attending the handing over of the houses to the beneficiaries, said he is satisfied with the quality of the houses, adding that government is committed to work with the Goodwill Ambassadors, who have volunteered to support people in the country: “As government, we are also committed to support them with various needs as they continue to support those who have been affected by various disasters in the country,” he said.
A total of at least 136 houses some of which were to be two-bedroomed and others three-bedroomed was targeted for construction under the initiative in the impacted districts. However, Dr. Muluzi has since disclosed that they are committed to build more houses, saying from January 2024, they expect to receive funding from other well-wishers to construct 1,000 houses.