Ca­pac­i­tate CPUs to han­dle dis­as­ters this rainy sea­son

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

THE cat­a­strophic ef­fects of the La Nina weather phe­nom­e­non char­ac­terised by heavy rains of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by strong winds and hail have al­ready been felt in some parts of Zim­babwe and South Africa with pre­dic­tions of more in­clement weather con­di­tions fore­cast. While La Nina is of­ten re­ferred to as the pos­i­tive side of El Nino (as­so­ci­ated with dry arid weather and drought), it comes with vi­o­lent storms which de­stroy prop­erty and crops.

Af­ter a sus­tained pe­riod of ex­treme heat, parts of Jo­han­nes­burg in South Africa bore the brunt of the La Nina ef­fect with strong winds and heavy rains pound­ing sub­urbs close to the OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port re­sult­ing in wide­spread flood­ing of homes last week.

Flights were can­celled while in­com­ing planes were di­verted to air­ports in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries such as Mozam­bique due to the sever­ity of the storms.

Res­i­dents of Eden­vale and Kemp­ton Park were the worst af­fected with some los­ing their homes and prop­erty to the floods. Mo­torists were also caught in the floods with some los­ing their ve­hi­cles which were swept away by the tor­ren­tial rains.

In Zim­babwe, heavy rains have al­ready wreaked havoc in parts of Bulil­ima and Mangwe dis­tricts with villagers los­ing homes to strong winds, hail­storms and heavy down­pours at the week­end. We re­ported yes­ter­day that about 50 homesteads were de­stroyed by a hail­storm which hit sev­eral vil­lages in Bulil­ima Dis­trict over the week­end and many fam­i­lies there are now in need of tem­po­rary shel­ter and food.

The hail­storm also killed live­stock and de­stroyed houses on Satur­day night. A lo­cal chief de­scribed the in­ci­dent as a tragedy and said peo­ple were in need of tem­po­rary shel­ter, cloth­ing and food. Bulil­ima Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tor Mrs Ethel Moyo con­firmed the in­ci­dent and said mem­bers of the Civil Pro­tec­tion Unit had been de­ployed to as­sess the dam­age.

“I re­ceived a re­port that sev­eral homesteads and live­stock were de­stroyed by rains over the week­end. I have not re­ceived de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the ex­tent of the dam­age but as the CPU we are set to travel to the area to as­sess the dam­age. “From there we will then mo­bilise re­sources to as­sist the af­fected with what­ever is needed,” she said.

The coun­cil­lor of Bam­badzi Ward, Mr Zoolakes Ny­athi, said about 50 homesteads in dif­fer­ent vil­lages in his area had been af­fected. He said the rains started at around 7PM and lasted for about 30 min­utes but caused a lot of de­struc­tion. Mr Ny­athi said villagers who had their homesteads com­pletely de­stroyed spent the last two nights sleep­ing in the open.

He said villagers were also in need of food. “At first our area ex­pe­ri­enced harsh winds which trans­lated into a hail­storm. The winds were se­vere and sev­eral homes had their roof tops blown away. The hail­stones were large and they smashed win­dows and prop­erty.

“I con­ducted a sur­vey af­ter the in­ci­dent and noted that about 50 homesteads had been af­fected. Live­stock had also been killed al­though I’m yet to as­cer­tain the num­ber. There are also cases of cat­tle and donkeys that died while some were in­jured,” Mr Ny­athi said.

We com­mis­er­ate with the fam­i­lies who have no food and shel­ter and call on Gov­ern­ment and part­ners in non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions to in­ter­vene ur­gently and as­sist. We also urge neigh­bours and com­mu­nity lead­ers to pool their re­sources and ac­com­mo­date those who were left home­less.

The spirit of en­joins them to as­sist their kins­men dur­ing this try­ing time. The CPU has started cam­paigns to con­sci­en­tise mem­bers of the pub­lic on dan­gers of floods and storms ex­pected this rainy sea­son and we en­cour­age peo­ple to heed their mes­sage to min­imise the dam­age wrought by storms.

There are ba­sic dos and don’ts dur­ing vi­o­lent storms in ru­ral ar­eas such as steer­ing clear of tall trees, stay­ing in­doors, telling chil­dren not to cross flooded rivers and re­pair­ing homes to guard against strong winds. In ur­ban set­tings, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties need to fix clogged drainage sys­tems which cause flood­ing of homes par­tic­u­larly in low-ly­ing ar­eas.

Dis­as­ter man­age­ment teams should in­ten­sify their aware­ness cam­paigns on the dan­gers of chang­ing weather pat­terns. In this re­gard, we urge Gov­ern­ment to ad­e­quately ca­pac­i­tate CPUs in ev­ery province so that they are ca­pac­i­tated to deal with any even­tu­al­i­ties this rainy sea­son. All ef­forts should be made to en­sure that there is no un­nec­es­sary loss of life. In Mata­bele­land North for in­stance, the CPU has al­ready raised the red flag and re­vealed that it is grossly un­der­funded and would face chal­lenges in deal­ing with big­ger dis­as­ters.

The Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs Min­is­ter Cde Cain Math­ema has said the CPU com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem needs over­haul and this is wor­ry­ing con­sid­er­ing that Sipepa and parts of Tsholot­sho are flood prone ar­eas. We feel Trea­sury should pri­ori­tise the al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources to CPUs so that they are not found want­ing at the most crit­i­cal mo­ments.

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