By Kennedy Nyavaya recently in Chipinge
Response to the ferocious Cyclone Idai that left a trail of destruction in March this year could have been better in Chipinge if villagers had been empowered with better disaster management skills, a government official in the area has said.
The area was one of the hardest-hit places that recorded massive deaths and loss of infrastructure worth fortunes.
Speaking to the media during a recent tour of affected areas and assessment of reconstruction efforts organised by Christian Aid, Chipinge assistant district administrator Salani Chamunorwa admitted that government had been caught unaware resulting in losses that could have been avoided.
“When Cyclone Idai came, we had not capacitated our people at the bottom, so it’s better to do so now such that when tragedy strikes they can take action on their own,” said Chamunorwa.
“We want to cascade down to village level teaching people what to do if any disaster hits so that they react better rather than waiting on government to come and rescue them.”
Christian Aid project representative Decide Mabumbo echoed the same sentiments saying the decentralisation of such education would help keep endangered communities alert.
“Our hope as Christian Aid and partners is that from October going forward, we can contribute so that trainings will be done so that structures stay in place and people know what to do in cases of disasters,” said Mabumbo.
Meanwhile, Christian Aid, through its partners, has led a humanitarian response in Cyclone Idai-affected areas, including Chipinge, Buhera and Bikita, where they have reached over 20 000 people so far.
The US$1 million project, which has facilitated construction of houses, food aid and household goods, is designed to alleviate human suffering and increase the dignity of Cyclone Idai-affected communities in Zimbabwe, according to Christian Aid country director Nicholas Shamano.
“The objectives of the response are to improve access for affected populations to water, hygiene and sanitation services to meet their basic survival needs, improve access to safe and dignified shelter and to strengthen family, community and social structures,” said Shamano.