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HomeNewsThefts, poor planning and co-ordination mar Cyclone Idai relief efforts: Report

Thefts, poor planning and co-ordination mar Cyclone Idai relief efforts: Report

Government officials, civil protection unit officials and members of the security services have been helping themselves to food tersm donated for cyclone Idai victims, a climateafricareporters investigation has revealed.

Not only that, our investigation reveleaed a lack of understanding of civil protection and proper planning, training in stores management and needs assessment done in order for relief items received to be distributed whilst they are still suitable for consumption.

Manicaland provincial social welfare officer, Charity Nyadzungira (45) on Tuesday appeared before a Chipinge magistrate facing charges of stealing aid donated towards victims of Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani.

“We have government officials and some other non-government people who also tried to take things and convert them to their personal use,@ said Local Government minister July Moyo in an interview.

On Monday a deputy director in the ministry of women affairs, Christine Chedeme was nabbed with goods worth about $3,000 she had allegedly stolen from Silver Stream command centre.

Chideme had helped herself to blankets, shoes and a wide range of foodstuff donated by locals and foreigners towards the plight of Cyclone survivors.

A police constable stationed at the same command centre, Edward Dhumukwa was also arrested after stealing an assortment of donations.

Millions of dollars are being sourced for those who lost homes, possessions and forms of livelihood during the harsh weather phenomenon.

Government says $612 million was required to cater for the survivors for the next 12 months.

Earlier on this week, authorities in Mozambique arrested three for diverting donations towards the cyclone.

The three had stolen 19 bags of mealie meal, 19 bags of rice, 100kg of beans and 11 bags of soya bean.

An audit was conduct3ed by climateafrica reporters was presented to the Minister for his review.

Documentary review, interviews, questionnaires, and physical inspections were done mainly in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces since these were the areas that were mostly affected by the cyclone.

According to statistics gathered from the department of social welfare, the total number of affected households was 52 027 and those left homeless were 17 608. The unimaginable and colossal damage inflicted by Cyclone Idai caught the Civil Protection Organisation unaware and ill-prepared to deal with the disaster of such a magnitude. As such there were no robust and water–tight procedures and policies designed to match and address emergency disasters of the kind posed by Cyclone Idai. Proper and adequate record keeping was a challenge.

This limited the extent of my audit such that, while I managed to draw up some schedules of some of the donations that were received, for example those listed on Annexures C and D, these lists were not exhaustive. Therefore, my findings with respect to donations are confined to those donations and attendant records that were availed for my examination. Findings The assessment on the preparedness of the Civil Protection Organisation (CPO), in terms of disaster preparedness and the systems that were put in place before, during and after the Cyclone Idai disaster, revealed some weaknesses and below are the highlights of the audit findings.

During a stock count exercise on September 14, 2019, I observed that a total of 33 403kg of goods at Machongwe Forward Distribution Centre (FDC) had expired. Furthermore, the food items were exposed to high levels of moisture as they were stored on the floor without pallets. The goods expired while in stock. On the other hand, Chipinge District Civil Protection Committee also received expired food items from the province which they later destroyed on August 21, 2019.

It is of concern that the relief items expired whilst in the warehouse before being distributed to the affected people. It was also revealed from interviews held at the camps that beneficiaries had received expired mealie meal and flour on various occasions.

I observed that no proper records for relief items received and disbursed were maintained. There was no uniformity in accounting for donations from Manyame Airbase to Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces as there were no detailed dispatch documents and receiving registers for audit trail. Only a list of donated items was submitted for audit.

Furthermore, there were no full descriptions of items such as the quantities or units received in order to determine the total quantities/ volumes donated. There were no standard formats used for receiving and distribution of relief items. Some districts used issue vouchers, others plain bond paper, photocopied issue vouchers and registers. No proper ledgers were maintained in the warehouses or districts to enable audit trail of donations made. This resulted in eleven (11) pilferage cases reported in Chimanimani and Chipinge which had been purportedly done by individuals who were charged with responsibility to bring relief items to affected persons.

The issue vouchers used to distribute goods to the affected households could not be matched to the distribution forms, as some sheets did not reflect what was distributed or who was receiving the goods and there were no signatures and national identity numbers of recipients.

Furthermore, in some instances goods would be collected from the district offices without being signed for neither were the distribution forms returned. I was therefore not able to match the items received and dispatched to the Districts and from the districts to the distributions centres and beneficiaries. This was an indication of the absence of guidance or standard operation procedures on how these relief items were to be accounted for and recorded.

It was noted with concern that there was slow utilization of donated funds. The financial assistance that was received through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was RTGS$1 972 758, USD3 033 449 and 20 000 000 Rands.

From an examination of expenditure documents and bank statements there were funds which had been received but had not been utilized despite having been received as far back as sixty (60) days before, yet the affected Provinces were not able to do their work due to financial challenges. For example, there were work stoppages on road works due to non-payment of contractors by the Department of Roads and PDC Manicaland was in need of RTGS$15 000 000 as reflected in their report dated June 3, 2019, but as at August 30, 2019 they had received only RTGS$5 160 000 from the same.

From interviews with sub-committees, it was gathered that there was no communication on what was released and how much the departments had expended. For instance, the Provincial Information Office Manicaland had been allocated RTGS$460 000 on July 10, 2019, however as at August 30, 2019, they had not accessed the funds.

I concluded that the Civil Protection Organisation, is not adequately prepared to manage disasters and has not been efficient in the distribution of some of the relief items and in rehabilitation of the infrastructure that was destroyed. On the other hand, the systems that are in place are not effective in terms of accounting for relief items. Recommendations It is hoped that the recommendations will help the Civil Protection Organisation (CPO), in terms of disaster preparedness and in putting systems in place.

It is recommended that: 1 The District Civil Protection Committee should ensure that there is proper planning, training in stores management and needs assessment done in order for relief items received to be distributed whilst they are still suitable for consumption. The Ministry should develop a standard operating procedures manual to guide in the recording and accounting for donated goods. This would help in ensuring proper accountability and transparency.

Furthermore, all officers should be made aware of the standard formats. The District Development Coordinator’s office must put in place proper receiving controls and record accurately the quantities of donations received before putting them in stores. There is need for proper supervision of the people managing the stores to ensure that they maintain accurate records.

2 The PDC should plan for meetings with various provincial heads and draft plans for approval by the CPU head. The meetings and plans will help the province to identify gaps within the system and needs for the various members in terms of equipment, training and other resources from time to time. There should be liaison between the CPU and Meteorological Services Department in order to ensure that radio units are effectively used to attain the intended objective.

3 The Ministry Officials should effectively liaise with Treasury to ensure the speedy release of funds to enable recovery works to be done in the affected provinces. 4 There should be a guideline on fuel consumption to assist the officer responsible for refueling of hired motor vehicles. Also the Provincial Development’s Office should ensure that no requisitions are authorized to draw fuel without this critical information. x 5 Chimanimani District Pharmacy should institute investigations on discrepancies of drugs delivered under issue voucher 493837H-493840H.

The Provincial Medical Director should ensure that standard operating procedures are in place so that the needs assessment mechanism are in place and are being followed before the actual distribution of medical stocks to hospitals and clinics. Further, the Provincial Medical stores should periodically assess drugs lifespan so as to determine where and when to dispatch the drugs. This would help in enhancing efficiency in drug management and distribution.

All medicines received as expired must be sent to Medical Control Authority of Zimbabwe to be tested if they are safe to be distributed to hospitals or for guidance on proper disposal methods. 6 The National Civil Protection Unit should come up with a statutory document that clearly directs and specifies how the development partners should act and that all donated goods should be under the Civil Protection Unit officials so as to ensure sound coordination between the Districts and non-governmental organisations.




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