Precious Manomano-Herald Reporter
At least six more tropical cyclones that will develop in the south-west Indian Ocean this season are expected to reach Zimbabwe during the current rainy season, although there are no predictions of the strength and rain content they may have once they cross the border.
But Government has drawn valuable lessons from past cyclones and put in place adequate measures to warn and protect people even when a high-energy cyclone with extreme rainfall hits, Local Government and Public Works Minister, July Moyo,said yesterday.
Speaking at the event to receive an assortment of modern weather measuring equipment donated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations to the Meteorological Services Department, Minister Moyo, under whose purview the Department of Civil Protection falls, said the six more cyclones were predicted by the Met Department, but their strength could not be confirmed.
Of the first two of the present season, Ana had lost enough energy to be a tropical depression when it crossed into Zimbabwe, minimising damage but bringing high levels of rain. Batsirai missed Zimbabwe, as some of the cyclones do, but others will have to be dealt with.
All cyclones lose some energy as they pass over land so floods remain the largest danger in Zimbabwe as water is dumped, especially when the cyclonic system has to ascend to get over the Eastern Highlands.
AfDB country manager, Ms Moono Mupotola, handed over weather monitoring equipment worth US$226 790 to the country.
It includes solar panels, digital barometers, automatic weather stations, digital stations, digital thermometers, standard rain gauges, hand-held global positioning system units and measuring cylinders.
The equipment was acquired through the post-Cyclone Idai Recovery project launched in August 2019 and expected to end in August 2023. Cyclone Idai, the ninth cyclone of its season in the south-west Indian Ocean, was one of the most energetic and most destructive on record and alerted everyone that a lot of measures needed to be upgraded.
“By the grace of God, for now, Cyclone Batsirai is decimating and has not damaged us as Tropical Depression Ana has done. However, according to the Meteorological Services Department, there is a projection of six more cyclones during the remainder of the current rainy season,” said Minister Moyo.
He urged the public to remain on high alert for the impending cyclones.
“Let us take these warnings very seriously. The country must know that we are not out of the woods. Occurrence of weather-related shocks need not lead to loss of human lives as affected populations can take early action, following issuance of early warning information backed by scientific approaches through use of the equipment being handed over to the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.
“Meteorological Services Department is the key early warning institution which requires substantial capacity building to be effective and efficient in providing real time data to protect populations that are vulnerable and exposed to risks associated with the weather,’ he said.
The Government had set aside resources to help victims of future natural disasters after learning a lot from the other cyclones that had previously hit the country, including the devastating Cyclone Idai which hit Zimbabwe’s eastern districts in March 2019.
“Once the Meteorological Services Department tells us the intensity and direction, we definitely will strengthen the areas that are going to be affected because we now have latitude to move things and from our own funds as Government and we are prepared with assistance from our cooperating partners as well,” he said.
Minister Moyo said Tropical Depression Anna did bring some damage with more than 1 500 houses damaged.
“Tropical Depression Anna compounded the situation and cumulative data for the 2021/2022 rainfall season indicates that about 1 557 houses were partially damaged while some were completely destroyed. More than 50 schools were damaged as well as roads, water, sanitation, health and social infrastructure,” he said.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Barbara Rwodzi said Government was seized with capacitating the Met Department’s early warning systems.
“I am pleased to announce that the Government has since procured the long awaited radars for the Meteorological Services Department. We expect delivery to start in the next few months. This will no doubt improve our capability but we still need some ancillary pieces of equipment to complement what we now have,” she said.
The equipment procurement project is being funded by the AfDB and being implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Services.
Ms Mupotola said they were committed to supporting the Government of Zimbabwe with the provision of weather monitoring equipment to the Met Department to reduce disasters.
“We enhance disaster preparedness mechanisms to help Governments and all stakeholders to plan and respond effectively to disasters.
“This also provides an opportunity to build back better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction,” she said.
Minister Moyo thanked AfDB and UNOPS for a well-executed project that was responsive to the needs on the ground.
“We are thankful to receive such a donation which will help the country to prevent loss of lives due to weather disasters. This weather monitoring equipment was procured at the time we needed it most.
“Every rainfall season, the country experiences damages to social, economic and physical infrastructure. The provision of this equipment is in sync with Section 854 of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), 2021-2025, that advocates Improved Disaster Risk Management through weather, climate and seismology services in the country,” she said.