When disasters and pandemics strike, they negatively affect the livelihoods of vulnerable groups, especially children and people with disabilities. Zimbabwe has been experiencing a series of climate-induced Tropical Storms and recurring droughts which have affected communities across the country. The situation has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult for people to respond to such crises. Disruptions that happen after disasters and pandemics have long-term effects on learners’ academic and socio-emotional development.
In collaboration with Welthungerhilfe, Christian Blind Mission, and various Government of Zimbabwe departments, the Christian, child-focused humanitarian aid agency World Vision has launched a project titled 'Strengthening Community-Led Actions on Education and Disaster Preparedness', also known as SCALE-DP project.
With an estimated €2.7million euros (US$3.2 million) funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the project aims to improve disaster preparedness, early response and access to inclusive education in protective environments for 135,555 children, 40,025 women and 36,946 men.
The two-year project, which began its operations on 1 June 2021, is being implemented in five districts, namely Chipinge, Chimanimani, Buhera, Tsholotsho and Nkayi. These districts are disproportionately affected by a combination of disasters, including droughts, floods, cyclones, and hailstorms that affect access to education services and erode disaster preparedness capacities.
SCALE-DP Programme manager, Dr Tapiwa Muzerengi, says that the interventions will use existing community structures to ensure the sustainability and participation of vulnerable groups. “Among others, the programme will enhance disaster preparedness of 250 schools in five districts of operations. This programme is unique because it is inclusive, for example it will incorporate disaster preparedness and response for people with disabilities", he says.
Dr. Muzerengi further adds, "This will include the procurement of assistive devices for children with varying disabilities. For example, braille material for the visually impaired, retro-fitting such as building ramps to ensure that those with physical impairments can access classrooms for learning. Disaster proofing for schools will also be part of the activities under the programme where we intend to facilitate the refurbishment of schools' infrastructure to withstand harsh weather conditions. The programme will also enable the stockpiling of non-food items, revitalising community disaster preparedness committees, as well as enhancing functional early warning systems so that communities can adequately respond in case of an emergency.”
The programme is made up of three partners who will perform various roles in areas of operation. World Vision will lead the Emergency in Education component in Chipinge, Buhera, and Chimanimani districts. Welthungerhilfe will spearhead Disaster Risk Reduction in Tsholotsho, Nkayi, and Chimanimani, while Christian Blind Mission will be the Technical Lead for Disability inclusion across all districts.