Red Cross targets schools to enhance disaster preparedness capacity


Tawanda Marwizi

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS), through their disaster response management has embarked on a cash preparedness and comprehensive school safety programmmes in Matebaland South province in a bid to capacitate communities with risk reduction education.

Several schools in the province are dilapidated and are prone to disasters such as thunderstorms, floods and drought.

So far the humanitarian organisation has identified 10 highly vulnerable schools in Mangwe District (Matebeleland South Province) to develop enhanced disaster preparedness capacities and reduce risks associated with frequent hazards such as storms, floods and drought. This is turn will contribute to building the resilience of the student’s home communities.

The organisation secretary general Maxwell Phiri the action will increase ZRCS’ preparedness and response capacities by consolidating its ability to design and implement cash-based programmes effectively.

“Secondly, the action will contribute to the efforts of the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) in mainstreaming School Safety School-based throughout Zimbabwe’s school system. Thirdly, a crisis modifier, or rapid-action preparedness fund, is built into action to facilitate ZRCS response to natural or man-made disasters during the course of the action.  This action is implemented by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, with the support of the Finnish Red Cross, British Red Cross, the World Food Programme, and the European Union – Humanitarian Aid,” said Phiri.

He said the proposed School Risk Assessment methodology stipulates
three levels of analysis: the first conducted by the students, the second conducted by the members of the School Disaster Risk Management Committee, and the third conducted by technical government agencies.

Last week several stakeholders of the programme witnessed an hour-long lesson where pupils conducted an assessment of their own classroom with the facilitation of a teacher.
“The idea is to involve children from the grassroots so that we raise awareness and inculcate a sense of safety and prevention. Since education helps convey important messages that promote security and well-being, we believe embracing disaster risk management in education is the best way to go,” said Phiri.

Several districts across the country have been affected by thunderstorms Mangwe district is one such area in Matabeleland South that has been a victim to destructive natural and socio-natural hazards, especially hailstorms and strong winds.

Schools, churches, homes and other institutions have had their roofs blown away every rainy season, exposing these communities in the south-western part of the country.