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Community focused early warning system for Buzi-Pungwe and Save Transboundary River Basins project inception workshop held

An inception workshop for the project, "Towards a community focused flood Early Warning System for the Buzi-Pungwe and Save (BuPuSa) Transboundary River Basins" was held in Harare, Zimbabwe on 8 March 2022. About 47 participants who included representatives from Government Departments, civil society organisations (CSOs), UN Agencies, Parastatals, Universities, private consultants and Rural District Councils attended the workshop either physically or virtually.

Speaking on behalf of the UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Lidia Arthur Brito, UNESCO Science Programme Specialist Mr. Guy Broucke emphasized the vulnerability of Mozambique and Zimbabwe to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. He outlined UNESCO's experience in implementing initiatives that aim to reduce vulnerability and build resilience to extreme weather events among communities. He mentioned that the overall outcome of the BuPuSa project is to strengthen local capacity in flood monitoring, early warning and flood risk management in the 3 Basins. He also spoke about the observation that weather, climate and water related disasters are on the increase, hence the project is timely as it will safeguard lives and property in times when extreme weather events occur. He thanked the Austrian Government for providing funding for the project.

In her remarks, Austrian Development Agency (ADA) Programme Manager, Ms Weyss Birgit mentioned that this was the first UNESCO programme that ADA was funding and hailed the new partnership. She also emphasised the importance of cross boarder collaboration and access to information about early warning, particularly by women and girls, and also those who live in remote areas.

UNESCO Science Programme Specialist Dr. Koen Verbist shared with participants UNESCO's interventions in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts of Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe as part of the World Bank funded Zimbabwe Idai Recovery Project (ZIRP). He outlined the lessons learnt in the Chimanimani and Chipinge project which he said were relevant to the BuPuSa project.

He also presented the proposed work plans for each of the five components of the BuPuSa project. The five components are:

  • Flood Risk Assessment Mapping
  • Flood Monitoring and Early Warning System
  • Early Warning Communication and Dissemination
  • Public and Political Awareness raising
  • Comprehensive Capacity Building on Flood Monitoring and Early Warning

The Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) who are the implementing partner in this project gave a presentation outlining their role within the project.

Mr. Elisha Madamombe, the Regional Coordinator for Global Water Partnership gave a presentation on the Global Environment Facility(GEF) funded project which is also being implemented in the BuPuSa basins. The project is entitled, "Management of competing water uses and associated ecosystems in the Buzi-Pungwe and Save Basins". He noted some linkages with UNESCO's ADA funded project and observed the need for collaboration on overlapping components.

Zimbabwe National Commission for UNESCO Secretary General, Ms. Margaret Chirapa emphasised the importance of engaging all stakeholders to ensure is by-in and ownership of the project. She also thanked all the participants for taking part in the workshop.