Red-Cross Comes To The Rescue Of Climate Change Induced Disaster Victims In Zimbabwe.

By Nevson Mpofu

Climate Change and variation results in Lanina which causes excessive rainfall, occasionally or at times it leads to severe disasters. The country ends up having persistent hazards like floods effects in prone low lying areas of the country. In the past decades, areas like Mzarabani in Mashonaland Central have been seriously affected as a result of floods which caused mud-flow, land- slides and soil creep.

In that pitiful situation, homes not quite strong were swept away together with their property and livestock. Hunger and starvation in the area compelled the Government of Zimbabwe roping in Civil Society to support affected families with food and other basic needs .Many  times, such an area has been hit by these floods , communities unaware and ignorant of disaster risk management .

This scenario still resulted in hydrological drought in some parts of the country like in Gutu , Masvingo in the year 2002 when heavy rainfalls brought by the Mozambique current hit the Southern part of the country . In another pathetic situation, a few years back , many families were displaced after heavy rains which fall incessantly split Tokwe – Mkosi dam in Masvingo south . The displaced were later settled in Mwenezi District at a farm where infrastructure was later developed.

Disasters resulting from Elnina , a situation of low rainfall led to metrological droughts  around the country . This situation which witnessed situational poverty growing large in affected communities called the attention of Humanitarian organizations like the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to take responsive action working together with the United States of America Aid for International Development based in the country.

Owing attention to decimations of life of some people in parts of Kariba Districts north of the country along the Zambezi River and south of the  area , the Civil Protection Unit has made a strong  call on disaster preparedness  now and into the future  .

Communities in Zimbabwe prone to disasters and hazards likely to affect people in their areas must work together with the Civil Protection Unit and other partners like the Zimbabwe Red-Cross to implement and mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation into Local Government planning project .

Speaking at the Lessons learnt meeting for the mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction [DRR] and Climate Change Adaptation [CCA] into Local Development planning project for Kariba 2016 to 2018, Civil Protection Unit Director Nathan Nkomo urged communities in Zimbabwe to work together with the   Local Authority who in the long run also engage Civil Protection Unit and other partners like the Red-Cross to address disaster issues adversely affecting them.

‘’The Civil Protection Unit will engage communities and work with partners like Red Cross to reduce disasters which leads to hazards like floods which affects communities adversely .

‘’We need to target villages , wards , local communities , districts and provinces in order to implement , monitor and evaluate activities which are meant to reduce disasters which can affect people .

‘’Also there is need to target implementation of Food Security  programs so as to avoid hunger in the future ,because climate change brings with it droughts which may lead to hunger , famine and starvation around in communities , in the country and the region ., he said .

The project which is on the verge of its end is currently running in 10 villages in 3 out of 12 wards in Kariba, in areas like Negande  , Nebiri and Mola . Also contacted for a brief interview, Red-Cross Society Secretary General, Maxwell Phiri said Red Cross Zimbabwe has the mandate to look at issues of national disasters and hazards and they are ready to reduce any of these and to see to it that all prone communities are not left close to danger since this can lead to vulnerability.

‘’We have structural and non-structural approach to reach to these challenges. We have reached them with not slight success but strength in whole as we have implemented, monitored and evaluated successful programs for community benefit in prone areas.

‘’At the same time we cannot do without non-structural approach under which we need to train people in the communities , make them aware of issues which come as challenges and affect them negatively’’ , he said .

The structural approach looks at issues of technology put in place to reduce risks related to disasters and floods and these could be like weather station which Red-Cross came with in the area so as to detect  weather , for early warning systems so that floods can be avoided .

Non- Structural Approach looks at training people on alert issues related to Disaster Management especially during the rainy season. Apart from that, there are issues of communicable diseases like cholera, diarrhea, Typhoid and dysentery which are dangerous to communities mainly during the rainy season.

Red-Cross also constructed latrines, nutrition gardens, piped water and a reinforced bridge .The bridge was constructed at Mawema River in Negande ward in the district. This was mainly done to avoid spread of communicable diseases like water-borne, food-borne and vector-borne, that is cholera , diarrhea and malaria respectively . Nutrition gardens were done for the sake of reducing malnutrition related to kwashiorkor, marasmus and pellagra. For this to be successful, food security programs in the area were raised through the launch of Nutrition Gardens.

Besides the above mentioned common disasters in the country, fishermen along the Zambezi River are precarious to voracious crocodiles decimating their lives on a daily basis. The Zimbabwe Red Cross and the Local Council of Kariba is keeping on reminding fishermen to desist fishing along dangerous points of the river.

Red Cross has as well done trainings in the area to bring awareness, community mobilization and sensitization to these fishermen who are still continuing with this dangerous activity along the Zambezi. In the Early Warning System and Disaster Response Preparedness, Lake Navigation Control, NyamiNyami  Rural District Council , Meteorological Service Department and the Government of Zimbabwe trained volunteers in Community Early Warning Systems primarily targeting small scale fishermen  . Maxwell Phiri also pointed out again that small scale fishermen were trained in contingent planning and basic first –aid in the fishing camps .

‘’In our community response we have trained more than 40 of them, but we target more of that figure so that we reduce such calamities .In line with this , 100 people from fishing communities are currently receiving weather forecasts and adverse weather warnings to take corrective action as issued by the Lake Navigation Control and based on daily input from the Met department in Kariba . Also we installed an Automated Weather Station at Bumi Hills ‘’ ,said Maxwell Phiri .

Experts in Disaster Risk Management blame it on the issue of climate change which is a global issue affecting MOSTLY Developing countries , those from the African region . In  its contribution and moral support , the Ministry of Environment , Water and Climate ‘s Department of Climate Change facilitated a climate risk assessment which resulted in the development of ward Climate Risk profiles and the Climate Reduction Action Plan .

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