THE Civil Protection Unit (CPU) requires about US$100 million to attend to rain related disasters in the 2021/22 rainy season.Normal to above normal rainfalls are projected countrywide in the season that started last month. The Meteorological Service Department (MSD) has warned of destructive heavy rains saying the country may experience floods as the rainy season progresses while cyclones remain a possibility.

This prompted Government to activate disaster response mechanisms to mitigate the effects of possible disasters during the season.Some parts of the country have already experienced extreme weather conditions which has seen roofs of some buildings at Manama Hospital in Gwanda being blown off as well as roofs of several schools in Nkayi district, Matabeleland North province.

CPU director Mr Nathan Nkomo said yesterday that the disaster response budget had been approved by Cabinet and it will guide the country’s disaster response systems. “We came up with the national contingency plan for the 2021/22 rainfall season. Cabinet has gone through the document which it finally endorsed on November 9. “The whole budget for the contingency plan amounts to US$101,1 million and this is not a thumb-sucked figure, but a realistic figure of what we need. We know that we might not get the whole amount at once,” said Mr Nkomo.

He said the budget will cover early warning signs and also respond to disasters that may occur during the rainy season that ends in March. “It (the contingency plan) is looking at the critical infrastructure, it is looking at shelter needs, it is looking at water, sanitation and hygiene, it is looking at health and nutrition and because our school term is not ending at the beginning of December, we have also taken into consideration all our social amenities, which include schools, clinics and hospitals, which may be affected by vagaries of the weather.“Food security, protection and psychosocial support and more importantly environmental protection is all covered under the plan,” said Mr Nkomo

He said there are a number of families accommodated in pole and dagga huts which might give in to heavy downpours hence the need to prepare to provide temporary accommodation to such families. “We need to provide them with non-food items, including tents, not the usual tents we have been providing but big tents that can accommodate a whole family,” he said.Mr Nkomo said the tents they have been using in the past were condemned by legislators and this time around the aim is to provide better and more comfortable tents. “Remember last time we were condemned by those who have an oversight role over us, the Parliamentarians, who said you cannot accommodate a father, mother and the children in one tent.

“We are taking into consideration all those social aspects and social dimensions of any disaster which might result in displacement of some people,” he said.Mr Nkomo said communities in areas such as Tsholotsho, Binga and Lupane in Matabeleland North are at high risk of being affected by extreme weather conditions. He said gold panners should suspend their operations as there is a high risk of mine shafts collapsing on them during the rainy season as has happened in the past.“MSD continues to share their forecast with us on a daily basis as information is being disseminated electronically using our structures.

Soon people will start receiving SMS messages on what to do and what should not be done during the rainfall season. “We need to continue with the education and awareness programmes and we are being assisted by our partners in that area,” said Mr Nkomo.He said the emphasis was to put in place effective early warning systems. “You need to act in good time to assist or avert a disaster hence the need for Government and its partners to work together.

“We should as teams be able to reach out to all the vulnerable and susceptible to any of the calamities we are talking about.“The mining sector on its part needs to urge all miners, especially artisanal miners to be on the lookout. “We have lost lives as a result of people going underground during the rainy season.” -Chronicles