Cyclone Idai: Schools in affected areas not ready for re-opening

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By Staff Reporter

OVER 100 schools in Cyclone Idai hit areas of Chimanimani and Chipinge are not ready for re-opening, the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has revealed.

According to the UN organ, over 90 000 pupils were affected by the tropical storm.

Schools in Chimanimani and Chipinge in Manicaland province, Bikita and Gutu in Masvingo province, were forced to close early last term after Cyclone Idai ripped through south eastern Zimbabwe, killing nearly 500 people, according to official statistics.

With the new term set to begin next Tuesday, UNOCHA notes that a number of schools are facing challenges amid indications that some 52% of those affected had reported at least one block or school facility being destroyed or rendered unsafe.

“Loss and damage to essential teaching and learning materials has impacted 95% of schools. The total number of learners affected is over 90 000, reflecting the pre-crisis enrolment of affected schools with 143 schools impacted,” UNOCHA said.

The international humanitarian organisation, said schools had identified psycho-social support as the top priority in terms of supporting teachers affected by the emergency, followed by didactic material and training.

According to UNOCHA, the ministry of public works was prioritising the construction of latrines ahead of the new term in schools to ensure basic safety standards are met.

Other response measures saw partners donating to the ‘Education Cannot Wait’ (ECW) fund, which is targeting 54 908 learners and 1 785 teachers in the provision of safe learning spaces, teaching and learning materials, and psycho-social support to children in the affected schools.

“Resourcing remains a key restraint, which has caused delays to partners’ responses, but with ECW funding in the pipeline, this will be reduced.

“Water sanitation and hygiene in schools remains the most urgent gap in the immediate term, including infrastructure and water purification tablets,” UNOCHA said.

Of those that died, over 50 students and three teachers are reported to have died from the devastating Cyclone Idai, which hit Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in March.