Cyclone Idai lays bare Zimbabwe's poor disaster management
By James Thompson
In Zimbabwe, probably the least affected [by Cyclone Idai] of the three countries, 11,719 people were affected, with scores of people reported dead, more than a hundred injured and over 200 missing.
Without a blueprint in place to deal with such a disaster, the Zimbabwe National Army engineers’ corps were forced to wait for water levels to subside and visibility to improve because its helicopters could not fly into the affected areas in Chimanimani.
In villages, state resources could have been used to move people to safety. With the unavailability of camps, displaced people could have been sent to relatives in less affected areas. Or public and private property could have been used as temporary transit camps - such as the Chimanimani Hotel, which led by example by taking in about 200 families.
Opposition politicians blame the Zanu-PF government for sleeping on duty. Some Zanu-PF officials have in turn been quick to rebuke the allegations. The ruling party has argued that even in developed countries, natural disasters leave a trail of death and destruction.
But a properly functioning society with efficient institutions should always have an effective civil protection unit (CPU) that is ready for inevitable disasters like Cyclone Idai.