As SADC enters a new rainy season fresh from devastating floods early in the
year, a more accurate assessment of its preparedness is needed before disaster strikes
Disasters in southern Africa have often been a tale of two
extremes. While the previous rainy season was characterised by floods, in the past
droughts have been more prevalent in the region. When floods devastated most countries in
southern Africa early this year, Mozambique
was the hardest hit. Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe were
also affected by the floods, though to a lesser extent.
Health and relief systems in the region were over
stretched. Infrastructure worth millions of US dollars was destroyed. However, the aid
given to Mozambique by other countries in the region was crucial, although better
preparations can still be put in place using its experience
The Mozambican government is preparing for possible floods this sea-son. Foreign Minister
Leonardo Simao speaking at a recent seminar on lessons learnt during the last floods,
pointed out that even if rainfall is normal, and does not reach the levels of last season,
the danger of flooding remains because the soils in much of southern and central
Mozambique are still waterlogged. With the water table at a very high level, the
capacity of the soil to absorb more water is limited.
Simao said that the challenge the country faced was
to verify our level of preparedness for an eventual new ca-tastrophe, particularly
during the period between January and March.
According to David Magang, Bot-swanas Works,
Transport and Communications Minister, SADC lacks the capacity for early warning on
adverse weather effects. Addressing the fourth Southern Africa
Climate Outlook Forum in Botswana, Magang emphasised the need for cooperation at regional
and global levels to address such issues as early warning. He called for the strengthening
and enhancing of basic infrastructure and capacities of national meteoro-logical
and hydrological services.
One such institution in the region is the Drought
Monitoring Centre in Harare. It is aimed at promoting technical and scientific capacity
and producing, disseminating and applying climate forecast information in weather
sensitive areas such as agriculture, health, energy, water, forestry and transport.
The Botswana conference was called to discuss the vital
role of weather and climate information and facilities needed in addressing the challenges
of weather related natural disasters in the southern Africa region.
By Tinashe Madava