An upgraded early warning system will be set up after three Government ministries and agencies yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Centre for Humanitarian Analytics (CHA) for upgrading the present system to an integrated disaster early warning system countrywide.
The agreement was signed between CHA and the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, the Department of Civil Protection and the Meteorological Services Department.
Disaster early warning systems help to reduce economic losses and mitigate the number of injuries or deaths from a disaster by providing information that allows individuals and communities to protect their lives and property.
Early warning information empowers people to take action prior to disasters.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Local Government and Public Works Permanent Secretary Mr Zvinechimwe Churu, said Government recognised that early warning systems helped society prepare for and respond to all types of disasters, including those related to meteorological, environmental, health and infrastructural hazards.
“They save live and minimize potential economic and environmental damages. Furthermore, the National Development Strategy 1, which is the implementation mechanism of our National Vision 2030, has a section which affirms social issues to enhance our economic and development agenda to ensure no one and no place is left behind. Furthermore, we are working towards attaining a digitally enabled economy,” said Mr Churu.
Mr Churu said cases involving massive displacement of populations in Zimbabwe were first experienced following the floods as a result of Cyclone Eline in 2000, in which about 500 000 people were displaced countrywide. There were further displacements of significant populations in traditional flood prone areas of the country in 2008 and 2013.
The Tugwi-Mukosi floods displaced about 15 000 people in Masvingo province in 2014 while Cyclone Dineo displaced 859 households in Tsholotsho in 2017 and another 36 households were displaced in Binga District in 2019, said Mr Churu.
“The devastating impact of Cyclone Idai disaster which led to 341deaths, 279 persons missing, 295 persons injured, 43 883 households affected and 17 201 internally displaced persons, mostly in Manicaland Province, continues to linger in our memory.
“To date, a total of 105 (out of 224) houses for internally displaced people are under construction by the Government of Zimbabwe, while the International Organisation for Migration is providing transitional shelter for 674 IDP households in Chipinge and Chimanimani.
“The citing of these events is crucial in that the rights of internally displaced people need to be known and enforced throughout the various stages of response and in keeping with sphere standards in humanitarian responses,” Mr Churu said.
Government recognised that humanitarian accountability entailed that individuals, agencies and organisations shall be held responsible for executing their mandate accordingly in emergency responses. He said one of the nine commitments of core humanitarian standard required that providing transparent and timely information to the public was pre-requisite to enable people, including communities affected by conflicts and natural calamities, to hold governments and humanitarian agencies into account.
The event was attended by senior Government officials and representatives from several organisations.