Zimbabwe-Disasters-World Bank

Zimbabwe recovering from deluge of “water that defied mountains”

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe)

Six months after Cyclone Idai struck, Zimbabweans are recounting the costs of and taking steps to recover from the devastation caused by the deadly tropical cyclone that “saw water defying mountains” and affected more than a quarter of a million lives.

In the months after Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit the country, scarred mountains remain in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts of Manicaland province, with some impassable roads and many lives lost.

Acting Manicaland provincial development coordinator Edgar Seenza says the devastation was “beyond imagination”.

“The destruction was beyond our wildest imagination as we could not have foretold the magnitude of the cyclone that saw water defying mountains resulting in mudslides,” Seenza recalled of the first days after Cyclone Idai made landfall.

More than 600 millimeters of rain was received in the districts during the three fateful days in March 2019. In normal month during the rainy season the area receives between 200 and 250mm of rain.

Approximately 270,000 people were affected in the mountainous region, with estimated direct damages of US$622 million.

The cyclone significantly damaged infrastructure, properties, crops, and livestock. It is estimated that to “build back better” requires up to US$1.1 billion.

Affected communities are slowly trying to return life back to normal – thanks to support from well-wishers.

Schools have reopened with inadequate infrastructure and resources in an attempt for normalcy.

As the recovery process unfolds new initiatives and financial resources are required to reclaim livelihoods, rebuild infrastructure and ensure that a similar calamity never has the same devastating consequences. 

In one such initiatives, a new World Bank-funded multi-sector operation seeks to advance recovery and resilience building to prevent a development crisis.

The financing will help mitigate the impact of Cyclone Idai on the nine most affected districts of Zimbabwe.

In response to developmental assistance required by the most affected communities, the World Bank approved an exceptional allocation of US$72 million to the Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP), which aims to “address the early and medium-term resilient disaster recovery needs of cyclone-affected people.”

ZIRP, which is financed through an International Development Association grant, became effective in July and was formally launched in Harare in September.

“The project will utilize the bank’s comparative advantage in medium-term recovery and resilience building, facilitation of the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus initiative and marks its first ever integrated engagement with a range of UN agencies under one project umbrella, while being closely coordinated by the government,” World Bank regional director for social, urban and rural resilience Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez said on Wednesday.

Through a surge of high-impact and immediate interventions in partnership with various United Nations agencies, the ZIRP aims to enhance the coping capacity of affected communities across multiple sectors such as water, sanitation, education, health and disaster risk mitigation and preparedness, benefitting as many as 270,000 people.

Drawing on experience from elsewhere in Africa, a Zimbabwe Recovery and Resilience Framework (ZRRF) is proposed to contribute to the strengthening of Zimbabwe’s capacity and systems for recovery and resilience coordination and disaster risk management and mitigation.

It is envisaged that once developed this framework will be scaled-up and applied more widely to support recovery and resilience-building across the country.

The ZRRF will identify recovery and resilience building priorities and propose a financing approach and institutional arrangements by which can be acted on by the government and its international partners.


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