Zim’s Shoddy Disaster Preparedness Exposed

via RadioVop Zimbabwe – Zim’s Shoddy Disaster Preparedness Exposed 6 January 2015 by Prince Tongogara

Pictures of marooned villagers in Muzarabani, collapsed houses in Epworth and flooded rivers that halted traffic along the Harare-Chirundu highway last week exposed the Zimbabwe government’s lack of capacity and woeful disaster management planning.

Stationary vehicles stretching for kilometers at flooded bridges along the busy Harare Chirundu highway made a stark reminder how the country is vulnerable when a major disaster strikes. The highway is a major trade route linking Zimbabwe to the north and South Africa. It is an important economic artery that not only sustains Zimbabwe but the Sadc region too. Any disruptions on the highway affect regional trade and economies.

Mining companies in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) depend on the highway for importing their capital equipment and exporting ores through the port of Durban in South Africa.

The flash floods left a trail of disaster that includes but not limited to more than 800 families left homeless, hundreds of hectares of crop field swept away and roads made impassable by potholes and flooded bridges.

Citizens were not adequately informed about the weather reports that predicted the incessant rains that culminated in flashfloods especially in low lying areas like Muzarabani and lower Guruve.

The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) only came on to the scene to rescue marooned people with Red Cross supplying emergence shelter and food packs to affected families.

Failure to warn people to move to higher ground needlessly increased the material losses suffered. Movables and livestock could have been moved to safer higher grounds.

It remains shocking how the government has failed to learn from last year’s Chingwizi flooding. More than 3 000 families were left homeless after the Tokwe-Mukosi dam basin flooded.

The incident exposed how the government that planned to construct a large dam failed to move the people before the project stared. Many analysts then said the Tokwe-Mukosi flooding was a man-made disaster waiting to happen but the government chose to lookaside.

The disaster is of similar magnitude to Cyclone Eline that left thousands homeless, bridges swept away and crops and livestock destroyed. No effort then like now was made to warn the people before disaster struck.

The situation is made dire when the leadership seems insensitive to the plight of the victims. President Robert Mugabe has continued holidaying in the Far East while the country is being devastated by floods. Opposition political parties have labeled such conduct as insensitive to the plight of citizens.

It therefore remains that the country still needs an efficient and effective disaster early warning system and disaster management plan. Without these in place,  Zimbabwe remains at the mercy of having many people suffer due to these natural disasters.


  • comment-avatar

    The Chirundu highway is in a mess even without flooding. It won’t be long before a road built in Rhodesia falls apart completely. The trucking pressure is immense and requires massive investment if the problem is to be sorted out. SADC countries depending upon it should pay for its rehabilitation because they are the heaviest users. The very least should be a massive tax on trucks transiting.
    As for disaster preparedness, forget it. Summoning an ambulance is almost impossible in the capital city. If you have an accident on any highway you are as good as dead. Neglect of key structures results in the inevitable and this is the magnification of disasters. Soon, western countries will be coming in to save the day as they have with ebola. As for never being a colony again, all that has been done so far has ensured that the only way out of this mess is through dependency on others.

  • comment-avatar
    Petal 7 years ago

    Heard from people who were travelling from Kariba to Harare that they had to turn back to Kariba by Twin Rivers Hotel because of the floods
    Dream On as long as the Southern African Dictators Club are there for themselves no assistance will be forthcoming Bet you Kofi Anaan will be shouting at the top of their voices again at the rest of the world for not assisting sooner the way he did for the Ebola crisis in West Africa !

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    harper 7 years ago

    First thing that happened after the International Red Cross handed control of Harare Depot from long service volunteers to “homecomers” in 1980 was the sale of all emergency supplies held there. The second hand clothing flooded the market causing many small clothing factories to close and consequent unemployment. However I suspect that much of this flooding has been caused by deforestation, streambank cultivation and illegal river mining. Its one thing for Zimbabweans to suffer the consequences of their own actions but Mozambique also suffers flooding as a consequence of Zimbabwe’s self destruction.