How prepared is Zimbabwe to deal with Earthquakes?

By HealthTimes Editor 

LAST night (03/04/17), you might have felt the ground beneath you shake and some objects move in a manner never seen before, well that wasn’t evil spirits attacking, it was an earth tremor.

This is however not the first time Zimbabwe has experienced such a phenomenon, sometime around the 80s soon after independence, Zimbabwe was hit by a few tremors. In 2005 around this very same time(April), an earth tremor probably bigger than the one we experienced last night hit the country, with the greatest impact being felt in the Manicaland and Masvingo provinces.

Judging by the recurrence of these events, we could safely conclude that despite Zimbabwe being a landlocked country, its not 100% safe form earth quakes. One day, in our lifetime, we might wake up to devastating news of an earthquake of humongous magnitude having hit our beloved country.

According to seismologic evidence, a landlocked country has a high probability of being hit by earthquakes.  Nepal for example has had its own fair share of earthquakes in particular the one that occurred not less than 40 million years ago.

Recently on 18th September, 2011, another earthquake came with a magnitude of 6.9 Richter. The epicentre was between the border of Taplejung, eastern Nepal, and the Indian state of Sikkim. The quake was followed by 130 after-shocks on Sunday and Monday, the highest measuring 6.1 and 5.3 magnitudes on the Richter scale, according to reports.

Closer to home, just yesterday (03/04/17) Botswana was struck by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake making it even more vivid and obvious that one day at one time Zimbabwe’s honeymoon could end.

The most worrisome thing however is Zimbabwe’s state of preparedness in the face of a catastrophe like an earthquake. This year alone during the flooding period, hundreds of lives were lost due poor disaster warning systems.

According to global statistics, the economic cost of natural catastrophes and man-made disasters worldwide amounted to USD 370 billion in 2011, a huge increase over the previous year. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami alone cost the national economy at least US$210 billion. Science and technology play an increasingly vital role in managing natural disasters.

To this end, a growing number of countries have recently established programmes or incentives to develop and deploy information and communication technologies (ICTs), geographic information systems, and remote sensing and satellite data.

Scientists have not yet come up with a way to forecast earthquakes. Although animals are reputed to have a sixth sense when it comes to these vibrations, no research has confirmed it, much less determined how such predictions might occur. In many cases, animals are simply sensing the arrival of earthquake waves that go unnoticed by people.

Effective response to disaster calls for timely information and early warning of potential hazards. Countries are continually improving their national emergency and early warning capabilities, and federal governments often defer to their states, provinces or territories for the choice of the systems to adopt. Warning systems usually include radio broadcasts, cable over-ride systems, sirens and phone messaging systems.

Countries such as Colombia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and the United States are vulnerable to earthquakes and are upgrading their seismic surveillance networks. Although earthquakes cannot be predicted and very few are preceded by clearly identifiable precursory events, the networks can facilitate emergency response (by giving the intensity and location of the tremors) and can provide early warning to tsunami-prone regions.

Even though an earthquake is difficult to predict, some countries have upped their game in terms of investing in seismic monitoring technologies that give regular and on time updates to victims of quakes whenever they hit.

Zimbabwe has to invest highly in disaster management systems and technologies in the face of man made disasters of any nature.









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