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Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo: Disaster preparedness and risk management policy is critical for Zimbabwe

By Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo – PhD

This framework is the main guiding instrument for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) within the scope of sustainable development and the eradication and elimination of any kind of disaster.

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo

Disaster management policies and practices should be based on an understanding of risks, not just on an ideological level. There is serious level of inconsistencies regarding the disaster related cases.

We had Cyclone Idai which affected the entire Chimanimani district and other parts of Manicaland and it took the Government of Zimbabwe over 72 hours to respond to such a disaster mainly because of lack of preparedness on the part of the State.

Gap and key challenges identified include still weak coordination, cooperation and linkages among the sectors related to DRR, lack of skills in loss assessment and post disaster needs, lack of strategic research agenda, absence of consensus regarding terminology, and limited coordination between stakeholders.

The aim of this paper is to gain an understanding of why disaster risk reduction efforts undertaken by local policy often fail to improve future disaster responses.

We have suspected cases of Coronavirus which is now a global matter, which surfaced in our country with no proper equipment and other necessities to have proper findings.

These findings can be used to help guide to improve local policy in disaster risk reduction processes. This paper is a systematic review study by compiling other documents and papers that are relevant to our local problem.

From my comprehensive analysis, I found that all four priorities for action in the Sendai Framework are relevant to Disaster Risk Management (DRM) field as follows:

1). Understanding disaster risk;

2). Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;

3). Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience and

4). Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The case of quarantine and self-quarantine are more of practicality than scientific approach. The impacts of disaster can disrupt the progress and developmental efforts of nations, often pushing them many years back.

That a major cause of these natural disasters affects human lives while exceeding the economic toll. In support of this argument, stated that “the techniques to efficiently discover, collect, organize, search, and disseminate real-time disaster information have become national priorities for efficient crisis management and disaster recovery tasks.

Although it may not be possible to entirely prevent all disasters, it is well acknowledged that an effective use of innovative technology can, to a great extent, reduce the magnitude of loss in life and property.

Indeed, emerging technological innovations including social media, location-based systems, radio frequency identification, and big data analytics (BDA) are considered as powerful tools that may help stakeholders during the disaster management cycle.

Disaster management has been defined as the body of policy and administrative decisions, the operational activities, the actors and technologies that pertain to the various stages of a disaster at all levels. The literature about disaster management is becoming wide.

Even a cursory review of the literature would identify that scholars of disaster management claim different theoretical foundations and argue different theoretical frameworks. It is critical for the Zimbabwe Government to make a review on disaster risk management as a way to mitigate or curb such crisis.

Review with systematic review will give the decision to strong literature because based on searching the source of information from trusted sources. Flow of information is critical and awareness to citizens on what is exactly on the ground.

Citizens need to be educated and promote awareness on critical information. This paper aims to gain an understanding of why disaster risk reduction efforts were undertaken by local policy often fail to improve future disaster responses.

These findings can be used to help guide to improve regional policy in disaster risk reduction processes. All countries have been on high alert, with our neighboring country, South Africa has called for a shutdown of all schools and other key institutions.

Disaster risk management policies and practices should be based on an understanding of disaster risk across all dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, people and exposed assets, hazard and environmental characteristics.

Such knowledge can be utilized for risk assessment before the disaster, for prevention and mitigation and the development and implementation of adequate preparedness and effective response to disasters.

Correct understanding of the risk-based on science, technology and local wisdom. Including the availability of detailed multi-threat assessment of risk for all areas, all spatial planning has used risk assessment.

In their approach to disaster risk reduction, States, regional and international organisations and other relevant stakeholders should take into consideration the key activities listed under each of these four priorities and should implement them, as appropriate, taking into consideration respective capacities and capabilities, in line with national laws and regulations.

In the context of increasing global interdependence, concerted international cooperation, an enabling international environment and means of implementation are needed to stimulate and contribute to developing the knowledge, capacities and motivation for disaster risk reduction at all levels, in particular for developing countries.

To date, disaster management has been limited to preparedness and response, with little understanding of the need for risk reduction and post-disaster recovery.

Drawing from experience in disaster response and consistent with HFA principles, the World Health Organization (WHO) realizes the importance of an all-peril and overall healthy approach to the health sector of Disaster management.

The main challenges in implementing the strategy are political will, and inadequate commitment generates poor funding for DRM health, weak health systems, and lack of scientific evidence on DRM mainstreaming and disaster risk reduction in long-term health system development programs.

The effectiveness of Zimbabwean policy about the disaster management in achieving its intended outcome is centered on coordination and inconsistency regarding implementation of the new policies and guidelines to curb the disasters.  

It’s achieving effective mitigation and response to a disaster thereby minimizing the casualties and losses to the community caused by the cyclone. Policies and legislation related to risk management are paramount towards defining the efficiency of the on-ground implementation of the Disaster Management Plan.

To achieve this, it is important:

(i) To mainstream and integrate disaster risk reduction within and across all sectors and review and promote the coherence and further development, as appropriate, of national and local frameworks of laws, regulations and public policies, which, by defining roles and responsibilities, guide the public and private sectors in addressing disaster risk in publicly owned, managed or regulated services and infrastructures;

(ii) promoting and providing incentives, as relevant, for actions by persons, households, communities and businesses;

(iii) enhancing relevant mechanisms and initiatives for disaster risk transparency, which may include financial incentives, public awareness-raising and training initiatives, reporting requirements and legal and administrative measures and

(iv) putting in place coordination and organizational structures.

To adopt and implement national and local disaster risk reduction strategies and plans, across different timescales, with targets, indicators and time frames, aimed at preventing the creation of risk, the reduction of existing risk and the strengthening of economic, social, health and environmental resilience;

To carry out an assessment of the technical, financial and administrative disaster risk management capacity to deal with the identified risks at the local and national levels.

Governance challenges and the historical burden have resulted in overlapping policy processes, as both policies incorporate the other field, and creates a threat of parallel national-level structures, thereby increasing potential inefficiencies in governance and policy implementation.

The local level is very important, not only because it is more discerning to the citizens but because it is the basic environmental management warehouse and regulatory function that is essential for effective disaster risk management.

Key areas:

  • Clear policy guidelines
  • Proper policy coordination
  • Political will
  • Disaster Preparedness as a priority
  • Information is key
  • Review and updates
  • Promotion and awareness
  • Prevention measures must be in place

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as the Lead Thinker of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking (ZIST).

He is also the Chief Business Development Consultant for Tantem Investments and he is also a Policy Advisor and Researcher and he can be contacted at [email protected]

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