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Prepare for the worst

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TSHOLOTSHO district was one of the areas hardest hit by floods last year and as heavy rains pound the country again this month there are genuine fears of a repeat of the suffering that visited most homesteads there.

A number of areas in some parts of the country have already been affected by flooding with reports that 11 people lost their lives in the past few weeks.

The unnecessary loss of lives is mainly caused by poor disaster preparedness as indicated by the delayed government response to the mass displacement of people last year.

There was no meaningful response by the government’s Civil Protection Unit (CPU) until this newspaper highlighted the plight of the flood victims. Several parts of Tsholotsho, particularly along the Gwayi River, were flooded last year, leaving scores of families homeless.

Villagers in affected areas went for months without assistance from the government. The government, donor agencies, embassies, companies and individuals then pooled resources to assist Tsholotsho and Masvingo flood victims, after the government declared the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam-induced floods a national disaster.

Therefore, it is encouraging that this time around the CPU has taken a proactive approach by reactivating its civil protection committee, which is presently holding flood awareness campaigns in various villages in Tsholotsho.

According to a report we published yesterday district administrator, Nosizi Dube who chairs the local CPU, said since the onset of the rainy season, they had not received any reports of flooding or damage caused by rainfall.

She said the CPU was advising villagers to report any abnormal water rise to their respective local leadership. However, the CPU does not have to always wait for the onset of the rainy season to embark on awareness campaigns about floods.

Villagers in flood-prone areas deserve to resettled on high ground, but this can only be done when the authorities have enough resources to compensate them.

Lessons could be learnt from the Tokwe-Mukosi tragedy whose effects are still be felt today as victims mark the first anniversary of the man-made disaster.

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