1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Governments and humanitarian organisations have invested time and financial resources in contingency planning but the challenge has been in establishing conclusive evidence of the relation between contingency planning and effective response. In its fulfilment of the primary role of protecting its citizens’ life during disasters, Government through the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Planning’s Department of Civil Protection (DCP), Government ministries, UN Agencies and various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), developed a National Contingency Plan that is updated annually to reflect the evolving hazard profile of the country. This plan is part of an important disaster preparedness process which allows Government and its partners to plan for disasters with the aim of minimizing damage to property and loss of life.
The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 priorities require Governments to strengthen Disaster Risk Management (DRM) governance, risk and early warning information, disaster education, reduction of underlying risks and emergency preparedness and response. Zimbabwe has committed itself to the five priorities and related actions of the Hyogo Framework and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) DRM Strategy 2012-2015 both of which prioritise contingency planning.
The outcome of a Contingency Planning workshop held on 22 November 2012 was the prioritisation of key hazards likely to require contingency measures. These were identified as: hydro-meteorological hazards (floods and droughts), biological hazards (Gastro Intestinal Infections) and technological hazards (Road Traffic Accidents - RTAs). All identified hazards in the Contingency Plan were developed with three scenarios. For floods and drought, the most likely scenario envisages that there will be floods from December 2012. At the same time, the occurrence of drought is also high as seasonal forecasts show that the southern and western parts of the country are likely to have normal to below normal rainfall. As a result households will be affected and in both cases require assistance for a stipulated period of time.
The health cluster anticipates that the typhoid outbreak is likely to be the most prominent hazard that could result in a health related disaster given challenges in accessing potable water. As at 30 December 2012, the national cumulative figures for typhoid since October 2011 were 5,829 suspected cases, 103 confirmed cases and 6 deaths (CFR 0.1%). This outbreak, which is reported as having affected areas in and around Harare is in addition to a diarrhoeal outbreak affecting various parts of the country with 467,543 cases and 292 deaths (CFR 0.06%)1. Most of the underlying and infrastructural challenges that caused the 2008/9 cholera outbreak have not been addressed and as a result the risk of continued outbreaks remains high.
In the case of an alert or disaster, DCP through its national, provincial and district level teams will conduct a joint assessment with partners main purpose will be to identify the circumstances existing in the affected areas and quantify the extent of damage caused by the identified hazard to people, livelihoods and infrastructure. This information will allow activation of a coordinated and effective response to the situation if required, and the initial planning of early recovery measures.
The Contingency Plan is in line with provisions of the draft National Disaster Risk Strategy which is however still awaiting finalisation. This Plan is a living document and while it will be reviewed annually, constant updates by all stakeholders will continue to be provided to address changes in the hazard, risk profile and scenarios.