Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) says protracted negotiations on land issues have delayed relocation of people displaced by Cyclone Freddy currently living in disaster-prone areas.
Dodma deputy director of disaster preparedness Fredson Chikuse in an interview yesterday said it will take longer to relocate the people from disaster-prone areas to safer and permanent settlements owing to the delays.
He said the negotiations involve multiple stakeholders, including the Ministry of Lands, district councils and traditional authorities (T/As) in affected areas.
Said Chikuse: “The issue of relocation must be systematically since we are dealing with land ownership issues.
“We are working in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands and the district councils to discuss with the T/As as the custodians of the land to avoid land ownership issues that may arise after the land is acquired.”
Without mentioning the exact number of cyclone victims still in disaster-prone areas, he said Dodma has in the meantime put in place safety measures to reduce the harmful impacts that may affect those still living in disaster-prone areas.
Elaborating on the safety measures, Dodma public relations officer Chipiliro Khamula said the department has put in place systems to detect and warn the people about potential natural hazards before they occur.
He added that Dodma has also installed lightning detector systems that will detect the occurrence of the lightning an hour before it occurs to avoid and reduce deaths that are caused by it.
Meanwhile, health rights activist George Jobe has called for the need to swiftly ensure people displaced by the cyclone live in habitable places that have basic necessities such as access to clean water and good sanitation to ensure good health.
“The issue of land must be looked into as soon as possible before the next rainy season to avoid a repetition of the devastating impacts of Cyclone Freddy,” he said.
In March this year, Cyclone Freddy affected about 13 councils in the Southern Region. According to Dodma, 676 died during the cyclone with over 1 400 people injuredand about 537 yet to be accounted for.
In its post-disaster assessment, government announced that about 63 health facilities were damaged while 944 784 water, sanitation and hygiene facilities destroyed.