Disaster Risk Reduction, Emergency Preparedness and Response


Way forward for disaster management in Zambia

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© UNICEF Zambia/2008/The Post
A family crosses a flooded road while carrying bicycles.

Disaster management in Zambia: UNICEF’s role

Zambia is not a very huge emergency prone country compared to Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. The main emergencies that occur in Zambia are very much water related and are predictable. Every year, there are floods along the riverine areas, primarily the Zambezi belt and in the unplanned settlements in the peri-urban areas. When floods occur, people are often displaced. In 2008/2009 floods, over 4,000 people were displaced along the Zambezi belt. In 2009 and 2010, over 3,000 people were displaced in Lusaka’s peri-urban settlements.

Due to lack of drainage systems, poor hygiene, and sanitation, cholera prevails in the peri-urban settlements. In the last 2 years, averages of 7,000 cholera cases were confirmed nationally with a case fatality rate of 2.2 per cent each year. About 80 per cent of all the cases were from the peri-urban areas in Lusaka.

Malnutrition is an alert, often called chronic emergency. There are no proper recording systems to provide concrete evidence on the malnutrition situation in the country. There is also an intermittent occurrence of drought, mainly in the southern part of Zambia, but this is often not of a very big concern. The heaviest drought in the last 10 years was in 2005.

UNICEF together with stakeholders has been working closely with the government in preparedness and response to emergencies. UNICEF has also been involved in capacity building and coordination mechanisms, supporting government systems to be better placed to manage disasters well.

DMMU in collaboration with partners is currently developing a concept on how DRR will form part of the disaster management framework. A disaster management bill has been passed in parliament, which aims at strengthening government’s effort and stakeholder’s efforts in DRR.

In the 2011-2015 UNDAF, UNICEF will provide support through the UN Disaster Management Team to help government in building resilience among vulnerable communities through the implementation of DRR activities. UNICEF will also support government in advocacy, capacity development of stakeholders, and coordination efforts of DRR programmes. As a first step to advance UNICEF’s role on DRR in Zambia, each UNICEF programme section has included a DRR intermediate result in the new country programme for the next 2 years.

© UNICEF Zambia/2008/Inzy
Children in one of the internally displaced people's camps in Southern Province.

UNICEF current response to disasters

The Government together with the partners supports communities displaced by floods in all sectors where UNICEF has a mandate.  UNICEF works closely with Government and non-governmental organisations through the DMT to deliver services to communities affected by floods.

Water, sanitation and hygiene
Access to clean and safe water, and poor sanitation remain the major challenge for effective cholera prevention and control in the country. In Lusaka this is evident by concentration of reported cholera death cases mostly in the western parts of the city where access to safe water and good sanitation is poor.

Latrine coverage is very low in the cholera-affected areas of the city. In the few houses with pit latrines, they are located very close to the shallow wells with high risk of contamination and people to latrine ratio are high.

UNICEF and WHO have supported the Government through LWSC to provide clean water to some areas where cholera cases are coming from. Mobile toilets and water tanks have also been provided.  While water quality surveillance is taking place, the process is not systematically documented neither are they linked to the epidemiological data which would have facilitated identification of sources and mode of transmission of cholera and ensure targeted cholera interventions.

Community sensitization and hygiene promotion
A number of hygiene promotion strategies including public Service Announcements, drama and theatre shows, distribution of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials, and door-door health education have been implemented by UNICEF and other partners to educate the communities on good hygiene practices and cholera prevention. UNICEF had also supported government in enforcing hygiene and sanitation laws through CLTS. However, these activities have not been sustained and often take place either close to the rainy season or during the rainy season when it is already late.

Cholera treatment centres
In Lusaka, the Ministry Health and MSF has always been engaged in setting up cholera treatment centres at various locations depending on the number of cholera cases and the areas they are coming from. With the recent increase in number of cholera cases, MSF is also increasing bed capacity in the CTCs. UNICEF works with MoH and MSF to support the functioning of the CTCs by providing medical supplies and water chemicals to prevent further spread and treatment of cases.





When disaster strikes

UNICEF works with the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) under the office of the Vice President to ensure the prevention and or mitigation of severe impacts resulting from disasters are minimised and also that the daily routines of communities are not disrupted.


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