George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Government has acquired 1 500 community “early warning’’ radios that will be distributed to all corners of the country, acting as local early warning systems to avert climate and weather-related disasters that are on the increase in the face of climate change.
Distribution of the radios will be done by the Meteorological Services Department, while the Civil Protection Unit will spearhead airing of messages on the radios.
Masvingo became the first recipient of the early warning radio that will be stationed in the Provincial Administrator’s office.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, in a speech read on her behalf by Zinwa chief executive Dr Jefter Sakupwanya on Friday, said combating climate change required a holistic approach which entailed putting in place robust systems to forestall disasters.
She was speaking at the commissioning of Bindamombe and Kufandada irrigation projects in Chivi and Bikita respectively.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government hoped the introduction of early warning community radios will in the long-term lead to disaster risk reduction.
“My ministry, through the Government of the People’s Republic of China, acquired 1 500 community-based radios which will be distributed countrywide by the Meteorological Services Department,” she said.
“The early warning radio is a normal working radio which will receive radio programmes. However, once a warning has been issued, it automatically cuts the normal radio reception and receives the warning.’’
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the radios will be kept by community leaders and other key players in the local disaster committees, who could easily convey important warnings that would have been aired.
“The radio is very special as it can record the extreme weather warning and a recipient is able to play back the message in case the message was aired in their absence,” she said.
“My ministry has started deployment of the community-based radios, this will be done at provincial, district and ward level.’’
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Government will make regular follow-ups on various stations to ensure the early warning radios were effectively used and properly kept.
She said Government had come up with a number of measures to mitigate the effects of global warming which increase drought and other climate change-related challenges.
Plans are also afoot to construct 300 weirs and the drilling of four boreholes per constituency countrywide under the Command Water Harvesting Programme.
Under the programme, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said communities will closely work with Zinwa in the construction of weirs, with Zinwa providing technical assistance such as weir designs, provision of cement and supervision of construction work.
Communities will provide labour and requisite raw materials in weir construction such as rocks and sand.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri urged irrigation farmers to pay their water bills to enable Zinwa to maintain dams for continued water supplies.
She paid tribute to the Climate Resilience Infrastructure Development Fund (CRIDF) for availing close to $2 million for the development of Bindamombe and Kufandada irrigation projects that will boost the resilience of the communities through food security and improved livelihoods.
CRIDF is a UKAid regional water programme implemented under the auspices of the SADC Directorate of Infrastructure and Services, Water Division.
For Bindamombe Irrigation Scheme, CRIDF, working closely with the Ministries of Water, Environment and Climate and Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement, financed the installation of irrigation infrastructure covering 34 hectares that will benefit 1 000 households in rural Chivi.
At Kufandada scheme, which is the brain child of the late Bikita legislator Cde Joel Kufandada, CRIDF worked with Government to develop irrigation infrastructure covering 28 hectares that will benefit 120 households at Nyika Growth point and surrounding areas.
CRIDF financed the installation of a 100kv solar power system at Kufandada, a project that is anchored on climate smart agriculture and irrigation.