BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI Zimbabwe has proved to be one of the countries in Sub Saharan Africa most at risk to natural disasters, hence the need to strengthen its resilience to such catastrophes.
Since the turn of the millennium, the Southern Africa region has been hit by at least 30 cyclones, with Cyclone Eline (2000), Japhet (2003), Dineo (2017), Idai (2019) tropical storm Chalane (2020), Cyclone Eloise 2021 and Cyclone Ana (2022) causing considerable damage in the country.
Several communities across the country have been affected by heavy rains and floods over the same period.
Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has been integral in all these disasters through augmenting the country’s disaster management systems, thanks to a myriad of their volunteers dotted across the country.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Friday handed over disaster relief material to ZRCS to replenish emergency stocks that had been used to support hundreds of families that had been affected by Cyclone Ana in four provinces of the country early this year.
The relief material included hygiene kits, blankets, tents, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, plastic sheets, face masks, jerry cans, sanitisers, bibs, T-shirts, raincoats, shelter tool kits and water treatment chemicals, among others.
“What we have witnessed here is an expression of the relationship and strength of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society which is a member of the global Red Cross movement where we are able to get support to fulfill our mandate of supporting communities at the right time and on time,” said ZRCS operations director Tapiwa Chadoka speaking at the handover ceremony on behalf of ZRCS secretary-general Elias Hwenga.
“We are grateful to the IFRC for the support to replenish the stock that we had used in the response to Cyclone Ana and we would also want to thank other national societies such as the British Red Cross and the Finish Red Cross that had provided assistance in the initial stock.”
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Chadoka said ZRCS was moving in to deliver stronger risk mitigation and prevention actions.
“Natural emergencies are now happening at more frequently rate and are more devastating, so disaster preparedness is perhaps the all means upon we can reduce impact of disasters on communities,” he said.
“Responding to emergencies is not effective, but what is more important is to prepare for the disaster.”
IFRC senior operations officer for Harare cluster, Zambia and Malawi Hillary Dhliwayo Motsiri said the support from her organisation was meant to replenish stocks and help the national society respond swiftly to emergencies.
“The donation is meant to address and replenish stocks in communities that were affected by Cyclone Ana early this year,” she said.
“This is a move where the Red Cross in its preparedness if anything happens they respond quickly. Just like what was said, ‘we are the first in and the last out’ and this is supported by our volunteers in those communities.”
Motsiri said the Red Cross boasts of close to 20 000 volunteers in the provinces that were affected by Cyclone Ana.
The tropical storm caused destruction and damage in at least four provinces in Zimbabwe, with Manicaland province being the hardest hit.
At least 3 000 people were affected by heavy rains and flooding, where schools, bridges and roads were damaged.