Improving disaster risk reduction capacity of District Civil Protection Units in managing veld fires: A case of Mangwe District in Matabeleland South Province, Zimbabwe
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This article analysed disaster risk reduction capacity of District Civil Protection Units (DCPUs) in managing veld fires in Mangwe District of Matabeleland South Province, Zimbabwe. Veld fires have resulted in unnecessary material, environmental and economic losses. Communities’ livelihoods and property have been destroyed, and the natural environment depleted. The research sought to improve disaster risk reduction capacity of DCPUs in managing veld fires, through new intervention strategies and a new model. The objectives of the study were to investigate the main causes of veld fires; to analyse their impacts; to examine the effectiveness of the current intervention strategies; and to identify challenges in implementing these interventions. Furthermore, the study sought to recommend new possible intervention strategies. This mainly qualitative study employed self-administered questionnaires, interviews and focus-group discussions. Questionnaires were used to investigate members of the DCPU’s ideas, views and experiences, interviews solicited perceptions of community leaders and their subjects, whilst focus-group discussions assisted with information from members of the District Civil Protection Planning Committee. Veld fires in the district are mainly caused by human activities, and they are prevalent during the months of September and October. They affect livelihoods and the natural environment the most. This study found that DCPUs are not prepared to manage veld fires and therefore recommended new strategies and adoption of the community-based disaster risk reduction model. The new strategies include involving community leaders and members of the communities in DCPUs; regular training and workshops to members of DCPUs on veld fire management; creation of fire protection associations; regular campaigns and rehearsal of emergency drills by the DCPU personnel; the introduction of competitions and incentives in veld fire management; vigorous public education on the erection of proper fireguards around homes, cattle pens, crop fields and vegetable gardens; and the imposition of stiffer penalties for carelessly or deliberately causing veld fires. Policy-makers, governments and stakeholders would benefit from the new intervention strategies. The community-based disaster risk reduction model would benefit researchers and disaster risk reduction practitioners.