Indigenous practices hailed for disaster risk management

THE contribution of indigenous and local knowledge to resilience among vulnerable populations is an opportunity to focus on the vital importance in disaster risk reduction with respect to natural hazards, a senior government official said.

Edward Makuzva

Speaking during the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction celebrations on Tuesday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere said this year’s celebrations aim at raising awareness on the use of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices to compliment scientific knowledge in disaster risk management.

“Many traditions, practices and customs which are important to environmental protection and managing disaster risk are imbedded in cultural practices of indigenous communities,” Kasukuwere explained.

This years’ celebrations were held  under the theme, “Knowledge for Life.”

Kasukuwere applauded both rural and urban settings saying indigenous people have unique vulnerabilities and needs in disaster risk and post disaster recovery but, with unique capacities and knowledge.

Minister Kasukuwere said to end this sustainable disaster risk reduction we should focus on creating  synergy between scientific knowledge systems about the environment, traditional and cultural beliefs of the indigenous people.

He urged research institutions to invest in understanding how indigenous knowledge can be linked with the scientific methods for sustainable disaster reduction.

Speaking at the same occasion, Red Cross Society of Zimbabwe Secretary General Maxwell Phiri added that disaster risk reduction should focus more on involving communities in areas where disasters have been experienced such as Tokwe Mukosi in Masvingo, Siakobvu, Kariba, Binga, and other areas in the low-lying Zambezi Valley.

“Knowledge within the communities should not be downplayed either, and early action is critical to manage disasters,” said Phiri.

The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Bishaw Parajuli explained that investing in knowledge helps for future planning.

“Zimbabwe has a history of drought and floods. The country needs to be prepared to grow crops that are drought resistant as well as putting various mechanisms to harness water such as dam construction,” Parajuli said.

International Day for Disaster Reduction was approved by the UN General Assembly in 1989 under resolution 64/200 as a way to promote a culture of disaster reduction inclusive of disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

Zimbabwean government has not fully managed to help those affected by disasters as in the case of Tokwe-Mukosi where more than 1 500 flood victims were left homeless in February 2014.

The flood victims were relocated to Chingwizi Transit Camp in Mwenezi but issues of food shortages remain unsolved at the camp.

Bishaw ParajuliMaxwell PhiriSaviour Kasukuwere