Vice President Saulos Chilima says it is high time Malawi breaks the circle of food insecurity arising due to weather shocks by urgently transiting from relief to resilience paradigm.

He was speaking during the Compact 2025 round table multisectoral discussions in Lilongwe under the theme “Moving from relief to Resilience: Achieving Sustainable Food Security for Malawi.

The round table discussion was organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute under the Compact2025.

He said by achieving resilience, Malawi aims at strengthening households, communities and the country as a whole to break the circle of food insecurity and coping beyond emergency interventions which come about due to negative effects of erratic weather conditions like droughts and floods.

“Malawi continues to experience different forms of disasters and the intensity and severity have been increasing in recent years.

It is recorded that between 1967 and 2003, the country experienced six major droughts and 18 incidences of flooding.

“More recently, floods in 2015 affected 1.1 million people, displaced 230 and killed 106 people. In 2016 drought rendered 6.7 million people destitute and required US Dollars 395 million for intervention and response,” said Chilima.

The vice president said as one way of addressing the issue, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) 3 has agriculture as one of its key priority areas with emphasis on climate change management.

He said the National Resilience Strategy has been developed to harness synergies and enhance cooperation in resilience building through resilience agriculture growth, risk reduction, early warning and response systems amongst others.

The Vice-President said government has, over the years, allocated 10 percent of its national budget to agriculture, with the sector receiving a lion’s share of 21 percent in 2013.

This, he said, helped break the circle of food insecurity in the country but did not make any positive impact in building resilience.

Chilima, therefore, said it is high time Malawi walks the talk on building resilience if the country is to achieve food security and development.

“Building resilience is no longer a Talk Show [but rather] a matter of action. Disasters are no longer unforeseen. Government is working to address challenges through the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy 3 and the National Resilience Strategy.

“Our cooperating partners, research institutions and nongovernmental organizations should support this noble cause of making Malawi a resilient nation so that we truly move from relief to resilience,” said Chilima.

In his remarks, Dr Bob Baulch, Malawi Country Program Leader for International Food Policy Research Institute, said promoting resilience in the country is extremely important as Malawi is one of the most vulnerable countries.

He said shocks in forms of droughts and floods resulting from climate change are increasing overtime which can make people fall back into poverty and food insecurity unless measures and programs are developed.

Baulch, however, added that resilience does not only aim at helping people withstand shocks but further aims at uplifting peoples living standards by moving out of poverty.

“The idea of resilience is not that they only bounce back to their previous level, but they should get on a higher trajectory which will allow them to escape from food insecurity and poverty.

“What we have learnt from last year’s food insecurity response plan is that it is possible to combine humanitarian relief (food or cash) with various activities that can protect poor households and communities’ assets during difficult times. This means they can get to these higher trajectories faster,” said Baulch.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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