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The Water Sanitation and Hygiene Perspective in Response to Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government and a number of organisations responded in various ways to the devastation done by Cyclone Idai, which occurred in March 2019. The massive disaster destroyed water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure resulting in crippled access to these services. This study was done to investigate the impacts of the cyclone on WASH facilities to assess the WASH responses to the impacts of the cyclone and to interrogate how institutions collaborated and were coordinated during the responses to the disaster. Data were collected using key informant interviews, focus group discussions, observations and document analysis. Results showed that WASH facilities at schools, hospitals, refugee camps and communities were flooded, washed away and/or collapsed. Water and sanitation responses that involved training locals were sustainable as the interventions imparted critical skills within communities. However, in some instances, the responses were not adequate. Distribution of menstrual hygiene kits enabled women and girls to live their lives with dignity. The study also noted weak coordination of stakeholders at provincial and district levels. The study recommends that institutions at provincial and district levels be resourced adequately for effective responses to natural disasters.

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