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Rural local authorities and disaster resilience in Zimbabwe

S. Bernard Manyena (Disaster and Development Centre, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 October 2006




Building disaster‐resilient communities is one of the strategies of reducing the impact of disasters in marginalised communities. In Zimbabwe, the role of Rural District Councils (RDCs) as facilitating agencies in the realisation of this agenda cannot be overemphasised. However, at present, RDCs are unlikely to be effective towards the realisation of the disaster risk reduction agenda because, in effect, this means finding ways of tackling well known development problems for which there are no easy or obvious solutions. Using case study material from Binga RDC in the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe, this paper seeks to argue that building institutional capacity for RDCs is fundamental if the disaster resilience agenda has to be realised.


The paper is based on the author's experiences in Binga District in Zimbabwe to show how disaster resilience is linked with capacity building, decentralisation and internal organisational structures of RDCs.


RDCs are facing a number of challenges, which include inadequate financial and human resources; unstable political system; problems related to decentralisation and the nature and role of RDCs in Zimbabwe. Capacity building, full decentralisation package and internal organisational structure of rural local authorities are some of the central fundamentals for building disaster‐resilient communities

Practical implications

With capacity building being at the centre of the building community resilience, coordination by donors as well as government agencies is fundamental. The circumstances under which RDCs are operating in Zimbabwe, highlights the implicit demand for the government to further consider fiscal and administrative aspects of the decentralisation. Proffering a devolved structure‐participation outcome scenario leaves RDCs in a miserable fiscal and administrative position to tackle issues related to long‐term disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.


The paper introduces the concept of disaster resilience focusing on Rural Local Authorities. It illuminates the complexities surrounding the delivery of the resilience agenda and how governments, local government authorities, donor community and civil society are implicated.



Bernard Manyena, S. (2006), "Rural local authorities and disaster resilience in Zimbabwe", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 810-820.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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