Luthando Mapepa Chipinge Correspondent
OVER 100 people in Chipinge district have received training to enable them to offer efficient psychosocial interventions that address the needs of endangered populations, with special attention to vulnerable groups such as children, women and the elderly, during future natural disasters.
Psychosocial interventions are an integral part in providing care and support to disaster-affected communities and Chipinge was one of the hardest hit areas by Cyclone Idai which killed more than 350 people, destroyed livelihoods, infrastructure and displaced thousands in the eastern part of the country.
It helps individuals and communities to heal the psychological wounds and rebuild social structures after an emergency or a critical event.
It can help change people into active survivors rather than passive victims.
The training, which was offered by Plan International, focused on equipping the grassroots community members with an improved risk perception or detection from a disaster management angle and impartation of psycho-social support to survivors.
Plan International education specialist Mr Guy Andang said the trainees included civil servants, local traditional leadership, schools heads and child protection clubs, among others.
“While the repair of damaged infrastructure has been the major focus of Government, we have identified psychosocial support as the top priority area.
“It is vital that education in emergency responses initiatives be focused on closing the gap created by ensuring continuity in the observance and protection of the rights of children, women and other vulnerable groups.
“It was realised after Cyclone Idai that communities and institutions were not prepared for such natural eventualities, and although awareness campaigns were done, the risk perception of the community was very low.
“The community never anticipated the gravity of the cyclone. You would find that where people should have been evacuated they were caught wanting by the cyclone, hence the target communities ended up suffering huge fatalities,” he said.
The programme facilitator Mr Alington Nhamo, from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said the training is aimed at imparting the correct knowledge, skills and responses before, during and after disasters.
“At the end we need to come up with action plans for both the schools and the community. They should come up with activities in their individual spheres and households so that they can be better prepared for anticipated disasters in their areas.
“We are preparing the participants to be able to identify potential hazards in their localities and then plan actions that they can take to mitigate or prevent the disaster in the event that it occurs in their area,” he added.
Disasters have the potential to cause short- and long-term effects on the psychological functioning, emotional adjustment, health, and developmental trajectory of children and women.
Knowledge of risk factors for adjustment difficulties can serve as the basis for mental health triage.
The importance of basic supportive services, psychological first aid, and professional self-care are highly recommended.
Stress is intrinsic to many major life events that children and families face, including the experience of significant illness and its treatment.