‘Brace for storms,  cyclones, flash floods’

Sindiso Mhlophe

ZIMBABWE is likely to experience tropical cyclones in the forthcoming rainfall season which will result in floods, violent storms and damages to homesteads due to La Nina weather patterns, Environment minister Mangaliso Ndhlovu has said.
A La Nina is a weather pattern that normally results in more rainfall as compared to its opposite – the El Nino, which often results in prolonged dry spells and droughts.
Zimbabwe has for the past five years been subjected to the effects of El Nino, which has resulted in recurring droughts, leaving over eight million people in both rural and urban areas facing starvation.
Speaking during the official presentation of the National Outlook Climate Forum (Narcof) for the 2020-2021rainfall season online yesterday, Ndhlovu said while the La Nina weather pattern normally brings more rainfall, it can also trigger violent storms and flash floods, leading to the destruction of infrastructure and in some cases the loss of life.


Environment minister Mangaliso Ndlovu in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism boardroom at Kaguvi Building in Harare – PIC -MYLES MATARISE


“Each country has its own unique climate drivers. However, weather knows no boundaries. Although Zimbabwe is land-locked, it is not surprising that the response to changes in the Pacific Ocean, where the La Nina and El Nino originate from, there is already talk of a La Nina this year.
“A La Nina is often associated with wet conditions over southern Africa, but the impacts of each La Nina on global climate are never the same. They depend on the intensity of the event, the time of the year when it develops,” Ndhlovu said.
“In Zimbabwe, a La Nina does not necessarily mean heavy rains as shown over the years. In line with the expectations of good rains in every season, there is equally a downside to this. Severe weather events such as flooding, violent thunderstorms, hail, lightning and even intra-season dry spells should be expected this season.
“This calls for multi-stakeholder participation in the use of the rainfall outlook as a weapon to mitigate the vagaries of extreme weather and climate events. To this end the government through the MSD (Metrological Service Department) will shortly begin the process towards the establishment of the National Framework for Climate services under the guidelines of the global framework for climate services,” Ndlovu added.
Ndlovu further said the framework would ensure user development capacity and engagement of all stakeholders who use weather and climate services.
During the 2018-2019 rainfall season, Zimbabwe was hit by the devastating Cyclone Idai which led to the death of 804 people and the displacement of over 50 000 households.
Other areas, including Binga, Gwanda and Matobo experienced flash floods in the 2019-2020 rainfall season which resulted in the death of about 9 000 cattle, the destruction of schools and clinics, among other things.
Ndlovu further revealed that most parts of the country were expected to receive above normal to normal rainfall for the 2020-2021season.

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