Nature-based solution to disaster risk reduction

Source(s)
The Chronicle

By Fortunes Matutu

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In February 2017 an estimated 20 000 homes were destroyed and approximately 130 000 people were directly affected by Cyclone Dineo. Widespread flooding took place in Zimbabwe, with Mutare, Chiredzi, Beitbridge and Gwanda particularly hard-hit. At least 271 people were killed by the storm and damage exceeded US$200 million. In March 2019 Cyclone Idai and subsequent flooding affected over 270 000 people. The storm and landslide caused the death of 340 people in Manicaland while roads and infrastructure were destroyed.

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Windbreaks are one of the most essential functions of trees and important in reducing disasters from winds. They shield buildings and roads from whirl winds and heat waves to minimise damage. A few trees can be effective windbreak but the choice of species planted has to be carefully considered around homesteads. Ideally one could choose a tree species that will not damage their property, is of low maintenance, is preferably an ever-green tree and has other benefits either ornamental or fruits. The choice of species for windbreaks should also be dependent on the climatic conditions of the area.

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We need to pay more attention to natural resource management for disaster prevention and reduction; and environmental conditions that lead to disasters. Any disaster preparedness plan should thus have a special focus on natural resources management. These offer cheap and sustainable solution to disaster risk reduction. Good environmental practices will go a long way in reducing vulnerability to natural and human-induced disasters and can be central to building reliance in the communities. Furthermore, well managed natural environments do not only enhance disaster resilience but also contribute to national socio-economic enhancement and biodiversity.

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