The government of Zimbabwe has been condemned from various quarters for its unpreparedness in the face of Tropical Cyclone Idai.
So far 98 people have been confirmed dead while hundreds more are still missing.
Zimbabwe bore the least impact of the Cyclone’s ferocity when compared to Mozambique and Malawi who were already reeling from floods for weeks before Idai hit the countries.
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A TimesLive report puts into perspective the government’s failures:
The country’s Meteorological Service Department (MSD) raised the alarm two weeks before the tropical cyclone hit Zimbabwe. MSD director Tichaona Zinyemba warned that it would “generate torrential rains and exceedingly strong winds, resulting in flooding and destruction of infrastructure along its path”.
Armed with that knowledge – despite the limited time at hand before the disaster – schools should have been shut down and pupils sent home.
At one boarding school in particular – St Charles Lwanga High School in Manicaland – 200 pupils, teachers and supporting staff were left stranded by the storm. With no help during the first two days, they were left to fend for themselves.
Without a blueprint in place to deal with such a disaster, the Zimbabwe National Army engineers’ corps were forced to wait for water levels to subside and visibility to improve because its helicopters could not fly into the affected areas in Chimanimani.
In villages, state resources could have been used to move people to safety. With the unavailability of camps, displaced people could have been sent to relatives in less affected areas.
Or public and private property could have been used as temporary transit camps – such as the Chimanimani Hotel, which led by example by taking in about 200 families.