Zimbabwe needs a policy and legislative framework to support a fund that goes towards reducing the risk posed by disasters, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said. Minister Kasukuwere’s brief oversees the Civil Protection Unit, which is mandated with coming up with preventive and responsive measures in the event of disasters.
He made these remarks yesterday on returning from the past week’s Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico.
The Zimbabwe delegation to the United Nations level meeting was led by President Mugabe, and also included Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, among other senior Government officials.
Speaking to journalists at Harare International Airport yesterday, Minister Kasukuwere said President Mugabe had told fellow leaders during deliberations in Mexico that after Zimbabwe recorded some 18 000 injuries and more than 1 000 deaths in man-made and natural disasters last year, Government had set up a fund directed at such challenges.
“So His Excellency presented the Zimbabwean situation, how we now have to set aside funding to mitigate these challenges and to rehabilitate our infrastructure. In terms of going forward, he put across what the country has been doing in terms of new infrastructure …
“In terms of upscaling our own response mechanisms as a country, we have set aside a fund and this should be supported by policy and legislation . . . to help our country to recover when we have had disasters. We need to have a contingency fund. As it stands right now, we end up eating into the National Budget.
“Money that should go to healthcare or social services ends up going to fix infrastructure that is destroyed by natural disasters and this is not a good way of doing things,” Minister Kasukuwere said.
Water and Climate Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the Cancun meeting had been vital in that it facilitated sharing of information in a manner that builds international co-operation when it comes to mitigating the impact of natural disasters, and reducing the occurrence of man-made ones.
“When there is a cyclone coming from Mozambique, are we adequately prepared to advise Government on what actions to take or we fall short?” she asked.
She said the Southern Africa region was progressing in the arena of information sharing, but more investment was needed in technologies like early warning systems.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said it was imperative for countries to invest in such areas because their primary concern should be on people’s safety and livelihoods.