Bongani Ndlovu, columnist
At least 30,000 families are expected to be relocated across the country after their homes have been illegally built on wetlands as the government works to address the problem of illegal settlements in urban and rural areas.
This was revealed by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works July Moyo yesterday in Bulawayo during a disaster preparedness workshop organized by the Civil Protection Unit.
The workshop attracted disaster management and response delegates from across the country ahead of the rainy season.
Minister Moyo said that with forecasts of more than 30,000 households to be relocated, the government has embarked on a housing delivery program.
âAs more than 31,527 households are expected to be affected, the government, guided by human settlements policy, has embarked on a robust housing delivery program anchored on an intensification strategy that has seen the construction of apartments at Dzivarasekwa, Senga, Highfields Messengers Camp and service delivery to Garikai / Hlalani Kuhle.
âLet me hasten to mention that the scope of production of flatter units will be achieved through Mbare’s massive development program which comes with new designs and better spatial planning. The Mbare development program has a potential return of 30,000 flat units, âMinister Moyo said.
He said the Reinforced Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, chaired by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, was responsible for dealing with dysfunctional, irregular and illegal settlements in urban areas and rural.
During the rainy season 2020 to 2021, some homes were flooded, resulting in the loss of real estate worth millions of dollars.
âConsistent with the above, our level of predictability on the impact of the identified hazards was precise, with urban areas most affected by the effects of flash floods in areas such as Gimboki in Mutare, Budiriro and Chitungiwza to just name a few, âsaid Minister Moyo.
The minister said Zimbabwe has over 36,000 village chiefs who can play a pivotal role in implementing disaster response mechanisms as the country prepares for the rainy season.
He said the seasonal outlook for the 2021/2022 season is being predicted by a La Nina phenomenon which tends to receive normal to above normal precipitation and extreme weather conditions such as cyclones, floods and storms from hail are expected.
Minister Moyo said that when Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani in 2018, the chiefs were instrumental in saving the villagers.
âDuring Cyclone Idai, the village chiefs knew what to do. We were able to help people because the village chiefs were the first to sound the alarm by calling us, âMinister Moyo said.
He said village chiefs know their communities in detail, which is helpful in preparing for disaster response.
âI just finished my tour in Kwekwe, there are seven chiefs and one of them has 605 village chiefs. I sat down with them and asked them how many farms they had, they all know that. I further challenged them to tell me how many people are on the first farm and by age. They know this information and we have this resource of people who know and have the capacity, âsaid Minister Moyo.
He said that was the structure that should be adopted when responding to disasters.
Minister Moyo said it was part of the government’s plans to speed up and strengthen coordination capacity.
âThe government created the National Command Center and similar structures at the subnational level. The Command Center is the nucleus of the National Disaster Center under construction.
âIt is therefore imperative that a strong preparedness program is in place to ensure preparedness for potential adverse events, including other unforeseen cross-border hazards. We will continue to be guided by our national and regional early warning systems as they will continue to monitor the season, âMinister Moyo said.
He urged the gathering to involve people with disabilities in the design and production of early warning information to meet the needs of special groups.
During this three-day workshop that ends today, delegates outlined the challenges their provinces faced during the 2020/2021 rainy season and how they overcame them. – Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi