BY FARAI MATIASHE

Construction of houses for Cyclone Idai survivors in Chipinge and Chimanimani has just started ahead of this year’s rainy season, Lands and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri has said.
Addressing journalists on the sidelines of a workshop on climate resilient investment in reconstruction and development in cyclone-affected regions of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday, Shiri said the resettlement areas and new infrastructure will be able to withstand future weather hazards, including tropical storms.

“This land is deemed to be reasonably safe from the adverse effects of climate change including flooding which was the main challenge in the Chimanimani area. The houses are designed to withstand the effects of weather,” he said.

Shiri said the government was working in partnership with China to construct houses for Cyclone Idai survivors.

According to the Department of Civil Protection, there are about 30 000 people from Cyclone Idai-hit areas, who are staying in tents and they risk to be washed away if there is flooding during the coming rainy season.

The department has blamed government for delaying the approval of plans for resettlement.

But Shiri said inadequate resources had been a setback to the resettlement exercise.

“Yes, there has been delay here and there. Resources are not easy to come by. As far as plans are concerned, we are in charge of rural resettlement. We will do our best to ensure that some of the plans are approved. Some have already been approved,” he said.

Home Affairs deputy minister Mike Madiro said the disconnect between producers and users of climate change information needed to be addressed because currently the information was too technical and difficult to consume.

He said effective early warning systems, including seasonal forecast, was of paramount importance for people to prepare for weather hazards, but long-term weather predictions should also be incorporated.

Meanwhile, World Meteorological Organisation Africa programme manager Ernest Afiesimama said southern African countries were still not prepared for weather disasters despite threats of extreme temperatures.

“All the countries here (Southern Africa) are not fully prepared for the next year disaster. 2019 is the hottest year. A rise in temperatures will result in tropical storms,” Afiesimama said.

“We still have events that started in January. I am not a prophet of doom, but when we have high temperatures, we can expect more severe and extreme weather.”

He said after assessing the continent they discovered that Africa was vulnerable to climate change, yet governments lack coordination with their weather departments and agencies.