Covid - 19 A Global Pandemic



Impact of COVID-19 on Zimbabwean Local authorities

Following the public announcement that was made by the State President, His Excellency, Emmerson Mnangagwa on the 30th of March 2020 regarding the global pandemic COVID-19, Zimbabwe has gone into a nationwide lockdown which is now in its 45th day as at 15 May 2020.

As the level of government closest to the citizens, local authorities have gone into overdrive, albeit with limited resources, in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide and infected more than 4 million people. Local authorities are at the coalface of this fight ensuring the safety of their residents by promoting preventive measures as well as improving services in particular those with an impact on sanitation and hygiene.

During the lockdown local authorities have continued to deliver their mandates which include among others the following:

  • Provision of potable water
  • Provision of sanitation
  • Regular collection of solid waste
  • Operations of reliable ambulance services
  • Maintenance of passable roads
  • Regulation of food markets in compliance with the heath requirements
  • Protection of all staff on duty during the lockdown by providing sufficient and appropriate protection and information

The local authorities used the lockdown time to clear illegal vending stalls and tuckshops which occupied open spaces in most high-density areas. Local authorities have also disinfected all the public spaces such as vegetable markets, shopping malls, health facilities and bus termini just to mention a few. UCAZ President Clr Josiah Makombe said that local authorities had identified new sites from where the vendors would be working. He said that the exercise was being carried out to decongest public spaces as well as restore order in the interest public safety.  

Twenty-four isolation facilities have been established in urban local authorities to quarantine and test suspected COVID-19 cases. The majority are being supported by UNICEF while a few by the WASH Sector.

Taking advantage of the empty public places local authorities have fumigated all public spaces.  “As you are aware the COVID-19 virus is heavy hence it falls to the ground within 1 meter to 2 meters from a cough or sneeze. That means that surfaces may get contaminated when the virus settles on them. When people get into contact with contaminated surfaces they may get infected. This raises the need to disinfect surfaces especially in public places such as such as markets, streets, shops, bus termini and other such places,” said Mr Kelton Chinowaita, Chief Environmental Health Officer for Bindura Municipality, He added that government had donated some disinfectants to larger local authorities for disinfection of public places while smaller ones teamed up with corporate partners. 

Other activities undertaken by local authorities during the lock down include repair and maintenance of roads, clearing of illegal dumpsites and repair of water and sewer infrastructure.

While the efforts by local authorities are quite commendable the relaxation of lockdown to a level where people are now allowed to move around, it is important to produce Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material for display in public areas like boreholes, clinics and shopping centres where large numbers of people frequent. UCAZ is working on making use of posters, pamphlets, static and electronic billboards to raise awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic among citizens.

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