The impact of Zimbabwe’s drought policy on Sontala rural community in Matabeleland South province
The climate of southern Africa varies greatly spatially and temporally. Tyson‟s (1987) examination of long-term rainfall records has shown an 18-year cyclical pattern of wet spells alternating with dry spells. Recurrent droughts are thus a feature of southern Africa‟s climate. Although climate change resulting from global warming could intensify future droughts, current predictions of regional climate change are unreliable. This study evaluates the nature, adequacy and effectiveness of Zimbabwe‟s drought policy in reducing the vulnerability of rural communities to the impact of drought. The objectives of the study are to explore the different meanings of the concept of drought; to explain the relevant concepts and frameworks of the hazard assessment and management discipline; to describe the current status of disaster management in general and drought in particular; to identify the mechanisms used by small-scale farmers in Sontala ward for coping with drought; and to evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of Zimbabwe‟s drought policy in reducing the vulnerability of rural communities to drought impacts. A qualitative approach was used which involved analysis of government documents and academic literature. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with government officials at provincial level and small-scale farmers at ward level in Matabeleland South province. The data collection exercise was, however, constrained by the current political instability in the country. The study established that the Civil Protection Act No 10:06 of 1989, complemented by relevant sections of other laws, provides a legal framework for disaster management. The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development has a coordinating role. Coordinating committees at national, provincial and district level formulate disasterresponse plans to be activated when a disaster occurs. The Civil Protection System uses existing government, private and non-governmental organizations whose regular activities contain elements of disaster risk prevention and community development. The enactment of the Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management Act will remove some of the shortcomings of the Civil Protection System.