Rural councils want govt resources to deal with natural disasters

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By Anna Chibamu

Local authorities in Cyclone Idai affected districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge say government should capacitate them in terms of resources to save lives in times of disaster.

Speaking during an Oxfam organised workshop in Harare on an analysis of the impact and review of the disaster, Chimanimani Rural District Council (RDC) CEO Nehemiah Deure told participants that if Rural District Councils had enough resources, many lives could have been saved on 15 March, the fateful day.

Five months after the districts were struck by the cyclone, infrastructure such as roads, schools and bridges is yet to be reconstructed or repaired.

“There is need to capacitate local authorities (councils) for purposes of preparing for disasters or purposes of responding to disasters. When disasters strike, local authorities are the government on the ground.

“When Cyclone Idai struck in Chimanimani and Chipinge, the first three days to one week, councils were feeding people because there was no food for more than 200 people who had their houses completely destroyed.

“I was in Mutare on the day it happened and I had to coordinate with my treasurer and admin officer on the ground to buy food for the people and feed them. It was the government through these local authorities,” Deure said.

The CEO added that a paradigm shift was necessary for the country to move forward.

Chipinge RDC CEO, Blessing Mamvosha also urged government not to wait for external assistance as in most cases, this would cause more lives to be lost.

“More lives could have been saved if government had sound disaster preparedness responses in place,” said Mamvosha.

Meanwhile, the RDC officials say gender based violence was on the increase with many other social ills now rampant due to life now being experienced by those living in tents.

They stated that some civil servants were claiming benefits when they were not supposed to benefit from the aid for those affected.

“We have cases of gender based violence (GBV) which are on the increase. Wives (women) are on the receiving end and camps are not good for a prolonged stay. Let those affected be integrated with their relatives,” said Deure.

The workshop coincided with the World Humanitarian Day, a day set aside to raise awareness around humanitarian assistance activities that occur globally.