Thursday, March 12, 2015

Low funding, a high cost for disaster management in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is prone to disasters such as droughts and floods
Busani Bafana

Bulawayo, - Limited funding is crippling Zimbabwe's efforts to plan for and reduce disasters in a country frequently experiencing floods and droughts.

"The National Civil Protection Fund is perennially underfunded; however this is complemented by other humanitarian agencies as is the case with developing countries in general," Sibusisiwe Ndlovu
Deputy Director of the Department of Civil Protection in Zimbabwe said in an interview. "The National Civil Protection Fund requires a minimum of about $3.5 million per year to fulfill its mandate."

The Civil Protection Unit is responsible for coordinating emergencies and disaster response in the country but is poor funded and inadequately resourced in terms of equipment and personnel to respond timely to disasters. It relies on the other agencies that comprise the National, Provincial and District Civil Protection Committees drawn from government departments, NGOs, United Nations bodies.

Zimbabwe, among other natural disasters is prone to droughts and floods which in 2015 so far have claimed more than 10 people in Mashonaland West and Central Provinces. The Unit established under an Act of Parliament has so far received only $50 000 of the $3, 5 million it needs annually to carry out its operations and awareness raising campaigns.

Ndlovu said national policy required that every citizen should assist where possible to avert or limit the effects of disaster in the country but it was central government that initiated hazard reduction measures.

Zimbabwe is ranked second highest for the number of natural disaster victims in 2013 as a result of the drought that affected 2.2 million people, according to the influential Annual Disaster Statistical Review for 2013, published by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the School of Public Health at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Droughts have also impacted on Zimbabwe with that of 1992 considered the worst in living memory. The being country wide drought affected 10.5 million people, 20 percent loss of the national cattle head, was punctuated by outbreaks of armyworm and cholera.
In the last twenty years, Zimbabwe's worse emergencies and disaster have include flooding, notably the breaching of the incomplete Tokwe Mukorsi Dam in Masvingo Province. The flooding displaced nearly 20 000 people and threatened to flood a further 40 000 downstream and destroying homes and livestock.  Another dam wall failure of the Negomo Dam under construction in 1997 resulted in loss of irrigation water and in 2000 Cyclone Eline flooding affected mainly southern provinces, widespread infrastructure damage, and crop losses due to water logging.

Ndlovu said currently risk reduction is largely provided for in legislation under various sectors but the Civil Protection Act and policy were being reviewed to better integrate disaster risk reduction in the mandate of the Unit.


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