Govt warned against settling people in flood-prone areas

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) says government must ban the construction of houses in flood prone areas to avert future catastrophes similar to one caused by the Cyclone Idai induced floods which left a trail of destruction in Chimanimani.

Cyclone Idai — which is the worst weather-related disaster to affect the country after Cyclone Eline has claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed most of the infrastructure including roads and bridges.

In a statement the commission said government must ensure effective rural and urban planning.

“In particular, there should be prohibition of construction of houses along water courses, valleys, and other flood prone areas which must be strictly enforced. This will prevent the drastic effects of floods and landslides such as those witnessed in areas such as Ngangu in Chimaninmani district,” said ZHRC secretary Makanatsa Makonese.

She also reiterated the need for funds to be availed to rectify the dire situation in Manicaland Province.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently sent a US$612 million international appeal that will go towards the rebuilding efforts in the affected areas.

Makonese also implored the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to increase efforts in offering psychosocial support, in partnership with relevant organisations to alleviate suffering of the victims of the cyclone.

“There is need to formulate a clear and transparent aid distribution mechanism that is not open to manipulation by politicians, especially at local community level. This will ensure that aid reaches its intended beneficiaries and also avoid double-dipping,”she warned.

The Commission said there is need for the civil protection unit to ensure availability of medical supplies, fuel and medical staff.

It said noted that priority should be given to areas that are currently difficult to access such as Kopa and Rusitu, with vulnerable persons such as those with long term chronic illnesses, being given priority attention.

“The CPU needs to come up with substantial short term (immediate) as well as long-term shelter support to rebuild houses for victims and reconstruct destroyed infrastructure as part of the relief and recovery interventions.
“It (CPU) needs to expedite the process of opening up access points such as bridges to reach out to victims of the cyclone who are marooned in some affected communities, formulate an effective disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness and disaster management plan that would help minimise loss of life, suffering and costly response interventions,” said Makonese.
Makonese said importantly there need to be resting arrangements and recuperation for members of staff on the ground who have been working long hours under difficult circumstances.
“Members of staff are now clearly fatigued. It is recommended that they be allowed to take regular breaks. This should apply to all levels including the provincial teams, district teams and any other affected staff members,” she said.

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