Chikwawa District Council has identified an alternative land for resettlement of three villages whose occupants were displaced by Tropical Storm ANA induced-floods and are living in camps.
The displaced from flood-prone areas around Matsukambiya and Kanseche; both in T/A Lundu; and Chikuse Village in T/A Makhuwira wrote the council that they would want to relocate to safer places.
Chikwawa District Council Commissioner, Alie Phiri said that the three communities are among those that were heavily affected and could not go back to their communities.
“We were approached by the three communities seeking this office to resettle them. We advised them to formally write us of which they did; and that’s when we started looking for the land,” said Phiri.
He said that the council has identified over 34 hectares of land on the higher ground and said he wouldn’t want to disclose the place up until all paper-work is finalized.
Phiri said in the past, it was difficult to resettle those in flood prone areas citing issues of alternative land itself, chieftaincy arrangements and cultural beliefs.
“In the past it has been very difficult to move people but this time around the request has come from them. There was a lot of resistance from the villagers. They would cite a lot of issues such as chieftaincy arrangements so we always ended up hitting the wall,” he said.
Phiri added that the council has already started planning to make available some social amenities within the new community such as health facility, clean and portable water so that life at the new site should be bearable.
He said: “We deliberately looked for land close to their communities so that issues of culture and religious beliefs are taken care of. The people of Matsukambiya will be moved just about five kilometers, those from Chikuse will be moved less than five kilometers and those from Kanseche will have to cover 7 kilometers giving them an opportunity to access their communities.”
Phiri said they want to speed up the process so that by the time people will have to go to their gardens to do farming activities, the people should have settled at the new site.
In an interview, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba said the department is aware of the request from the three communities adding that it was a welcome move towards disaster risk reduction.
Kalemba said he visited the proposed site for relocation and commended the council for identifying such a safer place.
He said his department has certified the place and currently asked the council to write them so that the request can be directed to the responsible ministry.
“We are waiting for the council to submit the request and once that is done, we will further write the Ministry of Lands requesting them to procure the land if all requirements are met,” said Kalemba.
On his part, one of the displaced persons Pilirani Mayilosi said they indeed presented their request to the council and they are hopeful that the response will be positive.
Mayilosi said his village was completely washed away and is no longer habitable.
“Three lives were lost due to Tropical Storm ANA induced-floods. We lost all our property and we are surviving on relief items provided by government and other well-wishers,” said Mayilosi.
He said that they would want to relocate as soon as possible to start a new life as part of the recovery process.
Tropical Storm ANA induced floods displaced a total of 32,935 households that sought refuge in 178 camps set across 13 affected districts.
In the picture, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs Charles Kalemba and Malawi Defence Force’s Major General Saiford Mandiza Kalisha visit one of the proposed sites for relocation of the displaced communities.