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EU Invests In Urban Disaster Preparedness in Zimbabwe

European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) is building the capacity of local governments to prepare and respond to natural, and men made hazards in selected urban areas in Zimbabwe.
Through the support from DG ECHO, the World Food Programme (WFP) is implementing an urban preparedness project titled “Fostering Community Resilience in Southern Africa through Preparedness Activities”. WFP is supporting some local authorities in identifying major hazards and potential risks in the urban areas.
The Acting Director for Local Governance Services, Harare Metropolitan Province, Nyaradzo Tagarira said the government used to have district civil protection plans which were more reactive not proactive and these plans did not encompass issues such as climate change.
“In the past urban areas didn’t have issues to do with preparedness to disasters. But climate change has brought a lot of changes, so we need to be prepared.
“Through the support from WFP we were supported to identify the hazards and to prioritise them. Some of the hazards which we identified were dysfunctional settlements and poor waste management systems,” she explained.
WFP Programme Policy Officer for Urban Preparedness Project Sibonokuhle Ndlovu said the project is taking a multistakeholder approach in identifying hazards in urban areas. The project has assessed urban contexts and their specific vulnerabilities to provide response options for better design of urban programmes.
“Having plans in place will help local authorities in responding to various disasters affecting urban communities, thanks to the generous support from ECHO. Some of the hazards identified are environmental pollution, diarrhoeal diseases, flash floods, electrical fires, and road traffic accidents” she added.
WFP has supported the development of Disaster Risk Management Plans for four Local Authorities (Epworth, Harare city, Ruwa and Chitungwiza) in Harare Metropolitan Province, Mutare and Gweru cities. The plans will strengthen disaster risk management arrangements in preparing for, responding, and recovering from disaster events. disaster risk management plans are essential in supporting urban communities to understand and manage hazards and disasters, safeguarding lives, property, and livelihoods.
In recent years pollution, poor waste management that is leading to flash floods, dysfunctional settlements, unemployment, food insecurity and drug abuse by young people are some of the risks affecting towns and cities in Zimbabwe.
Most urban dwellers in Zimbabwe and around the world were affected by COVID19 lockdown movement restrictions measures and couldn’t put food on the table.
According to the 2023 urban Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) results, the cereal insecurity levels for urban areas decreased from 42% reported in 2020 to 29% in 2023. A total of 1,533,661 people were estimated to be cereal insecure in the urban areas based on data collected in January 2023.

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Caption A Dysfunctional settlement in Epworth

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