Floods expose our unpreparedness – DailyNews Live

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\n HARARE – Zimbabweans are dangerously unprepared for the natural disasters most of the country is exposed to if the latest incessant rains and subsequent floods are anything to judge by.

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\n Government’s response to prolonged flooding in various areas of the country exposes weak political accountability.

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\n For a nation coming out of a devastating drought, the latest natural disaster across the country’s cities, towns and rural areas illustrates how weak political accountability mechanisms are aggravating the human, economic, ecological and financial cost of the current floods.

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\n The situation is likely to get worse in the coming  days amid indications that more heavy rains are expected in the country after a number of low-lying areas have already been seriously affected by flooding.

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\n The Meteorological Services Department has warned that more rains are likely to fall this month, causing more problems for a country struggling to deal with the effects of monsoon type of rains.

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\n There are reports that an eight-hour storm pounded Gwanda South last week, washing away three dams and crops in its wake.

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\n Mud huts were destroyed and livestock was swept away following the storm that left a trail of destruction in the impoverished constituency.

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\n The same story has been repeated in areas such as Gutu, Chipinge and Muzarabani among other areas in the country with the majority of people losing their livelihoods to the natural disaster. 

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\n However, despite the flimsy excuses being given by the government, the real problem is not the heavy rainfall that has been pounding the country but the prolonged delay in getting the water off the land.

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\n Investigating this problem reveals serious deficiencies in rehabilitation and maintenance work on the country’s drainage systems. The failure to efficiently complete these works for the past few years reflects too much government interference in council programmes and overly centralised decision-making.

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\n Impromptu meetings between citizens and political figures last week in Harare provided, to date, the only opportunity for affected communities to learn about certain major decisions.

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\n Such meetings are, however, no substitute for statutory mechanisms to engage citizens’ views in systematic consultation at local and national levels. This dismissive culture should be replaced by systematic community consultation on all social issues.

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\n Currently, communities are robbed of any influence they have over decisions that affect them because of the absence of effective accountability to them about disaster responses.

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\n The current thinking on disaster relief, which reduces — and at times even disregards — community involvement, is defective and disempowering and we recommend that it be corrected.

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