By Oliver Kazunga
ZIMBABWE is on high alert for earthquakes caused by climate change as the country has been increasingly experiencing earth tremors, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Speaking during the 2018 Parliamentary pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls last Friday, Water and Climate Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said earthquakes were more pronounced in the Zambezi Valley.
“Zimbabwe is being revisited regularly by seismic disasters (earthquakes). We have had 50 seismic disasters so far since last year and we need our scientists to begin looking into these issues so that we are able to come up with policies to advise on how dams and even buildings would be constructed.
“In the past, earthquakes were not a concern but now regularly we are experiencing these in the Zambezi Valley. There is a possibility that these seismic disasters can be of high magnitude destroying infrastructure and causing deaths,” she said.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said earthquakes were mostly predominant when the level of water in the Kariba Dam is low and very high.
“So we want to advise particularly on Batoka as we construct Batoka what are the measures that we take so that we don’t lose lives and infrastructure like our major dams,” she said.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have proposed the construction of the $4 billion Batoka Hydro-electric power plant along the Zambezi River and it is envisaged to produce 1 600 megawatts.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said in the 2017/18 weather forecast, the country expects normal to above normal rains culminating in high inflows into dams as well as high discharge of ground water with chances of flooding.Like Zimbabwe experienced in the 2016/17 season, she said, chances of flooding were predictable in the upcoming season.
She said the country needs to strengthen its early warning systems in low-lying areas such as Tsholotsho, Malipati, Gokwe, Muzarabani, Middle Sabi and Chicuala-cuala.
“Bearing in mind this potential disastrous situation we are faced with, my ministry has seen the need to vigorously pursue an ambitious water harvesting programme to improve the lives of people at grassroots level to ensure that we don’t run dry,” said Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri.
She said her Ministry strongly believes the country requires radar systems to advice on disasters.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri said it was imperative for Government to adapt to climate change by setting aside funding to mitigate the adverse effects of earthquakes.
“While we appreciate the challenges that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is experiencing, over and above even under very difficult circumstances we have successfully secured some funds and sometimes mitigated disasters,” she said. The Herald