Following a successful pre-meeting with community members, representatives of civil society organisations and survivors from communities that were affected by cyclones Idai and Kenneth met at a regional dialogue in Mutare, Zimbabwe from the 2nd-4th of March. This gathering allowed all in attendance to reflect on and share their experiences, while using these to draft recommendations to addressing the need to re-look at the SADC regions disaster preparation mechanisms. The theme of the dialogue was penned as “Re-thinking Current Models on Disaster Preparedness, Response and Adaptation”.
“Over and above short-term charity, the survivors of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth need the region’s support in order to rebuild their lives. They need dignified housing, opportunities to income and access to state services such as education, documentation (IDs, birth certificates, etc) and security & protection.” Says Masego Madzwamuse, CEO of the Southern Africa Trust.
Some of the painful outlines of this report detail how the aftermath of these cyclones brought about the Second Disaster. It highlights the plight of citizens who despite the outpouring of global aid, have been left to fend for themselves with only the help of a handful of civil society organisations who have limited capacity to help communities rebuild their lives. Many people still live in tents and other temporary structures, with no sight of an end to their plight. Women and girls are increasingly vulnerable; and as a result are sexually violated in exchange for food supplies and other disaster relief provisions, while many people have been rendered stateless as a result of not being able to replace identification and travel documents that were lost in the catastrophe. It is through these experiences that these citizens agreed to participate in this dialogue and contribute to developing proposed solutions.
Notable recommendations include;
- Engaging with communities in a manner and language which best informs them on this urgent matter, thus refraining from using technical terms.
- Partners and communities committing to investing their resources in awareness and actions that address climate change risk.
- The establishment of community-based and women-led frameworks that focus on making risk reduction operational by prioritising the preparedness of communities for disasters.
- The establishment of laws and mechanisms that enforce Humanitarian Rescue efforts to respond to short and long term needs; while safeguarding against human and environmental exploitation.
- Increasing the capacity of regional meteorological departments to allow for effective early warning in cases of disasters.
Madzwamuse further added, “This dialogue was the first step to providing survivors with a safe space to share their experiences, and it is through this that their plight has been acknowledged. There needs to be more such engagements, particularly catering to women and children who remain most vulnerable post the cyclones.”
The report and recommendations from this dialogue will be submitted to the SADC Disaster Preparedness Technical Working Group via organisational co-members for the purposes of contributing to upcoming Disaster Preparedness Framework policy discussions within the region.
The fellow organisations are the Centre of African Philanthropy and Social Investment (CAPSI), Amnesty International, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), Action Aid Mozambique, Southern Africa Youth Forum (SAYOF), and SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-NGO).