Legislation, Vulnerability and Disaster Risk Management of Waterborne Diseases in Zimbabwe

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 40, Issue 1, p.61-91 (2018)

Keywords:

cholera, Civil protection, data collection, expanded medical infrastructure vulnerability index, socio-economic vulnerability

Abstract:

The annual probabilities of droughts and floods in Zimbabwe averaged at 31.6 and 57.9 % between 1990 and 2014. Those disasters have accounted for 97.1 % of the disaster mortalities and for 99.7 % of the economic disaster losses in Zimbabwe. Occurrences of droughts and floods decrease the population’s access to sufficient volumes of drinking water. In addition, provision of safe drinking water and access to improved sanitation facilities have been declining among the population in Zimbabwe in recent years, as a result of breakdown in public services. These factors have contributed to outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as cholera. Therefore, the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) will play a significant role in the disaster management in Zimbabwe. In the current article, the authors seek to analyse the legislation and the WASH vulnerability angle of the disaster management system in Zimbabwe. Results of the legislation analysis indicate that the disaster management system in Zimbabwe incorporates tools to deal with epidemics and WASH-related outcomes of disasters in general. The key parts of legislation include the Civil Protection Act no. 22 of 2001, the Emergency Powers Act no. 572/1979 and the Public Health Act no. 899 of 1978. Disaster management across the territory of Zimbabwe is overseen by the Directorate of Civil Protection at the national level. The coordination is also carried out by the National Civil Protection Committee. Data gathering could be facilitated by training of the NGO staff and volunteers, using the data-collection tool developed by the authors. The number of healthcare professionals who provide care to the Zimbabwean population is not the main reason for the WASH-related disaster risk. This type of disaster risk could be partially explained by the weak correlation between the socio-economic vulnerability of the Zimbabwean population and the risk from WASH-related health outcomes of disasters in the country. Further studies will have to be conducted to investigate these vulnerability results in more detail.