The team visited two sites, one affected by (floods, in Zaka District, Masvingo Province and hailstorms in Mberengwa District, Midland Province). The field visit gave an interesting perspective into both the “planned” flood response and “opportunistic” hailstorm response. In most of the affected provinces, ZRCS was the first responder to the disasters. Overall, beneficiaries interviewed were grateful for what they had received from ZRCS.
While the operational plan was changed to include support for the Mberengwa hailstorms, this reallocation impacted on the scope of the floods response even though contributions were made by other organisations to flood-affected communities. It could have been possible to have a separate DREF operation for the hailstorms response. It is important that changes to the operational plan or to the broader context are discussed - in lieu of a DM counterpart at the IFRC Country Office – with the Operations Coordinator, at the Southern Africa Regional Office; as per the newly agreed Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for Disaster Management in Africa.
The operation was largely delivered efficiently and effectively. The only outstanding activity at the end of the operation was the construction of the latrines, which were in the final stages of completion at the time of the review. There seemed to be some variance between what was planned in terms of distribution of non food items (NFIs) compared with actual, however at the time of the review ZRCS were still working on reconciling the final figures. While the operation went some way towards meeting the needs of affected communities, there were gaps that were not covered by other organisations. This reinforces the need to coordinate with other organisations and agencies on a regular basis and to revise the plan of action should the needs (or context) change.
The DREF operation and intervention in floods and hailstorms has helped to raise the profile and visibility of the National Society as the first responder in disaster response by the affected communities as well as the Government’s Civil Protection Organisation (the coordinating body for disaster response, represented at National, Provincial and District levels). In fact, in the Midlands Province, not only was the Red Cross response in line with the government’s response, it actually exceeded the government’s expectation.
Throughout the review, the issue of financial transfer and reconciliations have been cited as challenges. There have been issues with the timing and quality of returns provided from branches and within budget, which has impacted on the speed of the operation. Due to the very nature of DREF, funds should be fast tracked and not treated as normal transfers to a National Society. There should be further discussions between the National Society, the Country Office finance and Regional and Zone level finance departments to find ways of streamlining the process; if possible.
The Country Office and ZRCS logistics department seem to have worked well together. Local procurement was done through IFRC, so that payments were made directly from the IFRC and would not hold up the returns process. One of the strengths of the operation has been the speed at which ZRCS has been able to respond, and this is due in large part to prepositioned stock. However, replenishment of distributed stock has been a challenge due to a hold up of containers in Beira, Mozambique. Fortunately this stock is for replenishment and not for distribution. The Africa zone Logistics Coordinator is planning to pilot a Global Logistics Service (GLS) project in Southern Africa; which aims to improve prepositioning throughout the entire region.
Overall the operation seems to have gone well, given some of the challenges faced by ZRCS and given that the National Society has an on going Emergency Appeal for Food Insecurity. The operation shows that ZRCS are dynamic and engaged, shifting resources as needed to meet needs arising from a disaster. This review aims to capture some of the strengths and challenges of the operation, and the opportunity to enhance further responses.