When Cyclone Idai hit the East and South Eastern part of Zimbabwe, the government, corporates, and civil society rallied together to offer relief efforts. Lafarge Zimbabwe was among the many partners who came on board to offer immediate and long term assistance. In a campaign dubbed “Lets Rebuild Chimanimani Together #buildingbackbetter”, Lafarge pledged to participate in the reconstruction of infrastructure and shelter in the affected communities.
Lafarge identified one immediate need which would be key for the rebuilding initiatives to be undertaken successfully. This was the need for skilled and semi-skilled labour to assist in the various projects that were taking off. Under the #buildingbackbackbetter mantra, the objective was to replace the destroyed infrastructure with stronger and better structures. As such having the correct skills would aide the achievement of this objective. Lafarge therefore sponsored 100 young people from 6 districts in the affected communities to participate in a masons training where they were given basic construction skills. This was in partnership with the Ministry of Youth as well as the Scientific Research Development Corporation. Following a five day training, the young people were equipped to participate meaningfully in rebuilding projects. Additionally, with these skills they were set to continue to offer these services profitably post the disaster response period. The contractors who were given the major construction contracts sourced their labour from this pool of young people, enabling them to earn a decent income to recover better from the catastrophe of the cyclone.
Lafarge then went on to support health facilities by capacitating a clinic in one of the affected villages. Among the needs listed for long term rebuilding in these communities, maternal health care was among the top priorities. In rural Zimbabwe, most health facilities are a long distance away from most households and in the absence of public transport, many expecting mothers have to go and rent lodgings at homes nearer to the clinic when their expected date of delivery is approaching. Alternatively, they have to travel in haste closer to the date posing a danger to their health and that of their unborn child. In a number of cases, some women give birth along the way. In the unexpected event of a disaster such as the cyclone, the women become even more vulnerable. The need for waiting mother’s shelters stood out as an important “building back better” initiative which would significantly improve maternity health services in Chimanimani. As such Lafarge in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Works set out to construct a four bed waiting mother’s shelter in Chikukwa Village North-East of Chimanimani township. Following a call for partners by the company, Lafarge brought together various companies and individuals in a charity fun-run through which part of the funding for this project was raised. This charity event raised 30% of the required budget for the project and Lafarge supplied all the cement and aggregates requirements as well as the remainder of the budget required. Lafarge also sponsored the labour for the construction while the local community contributed the meals and other supplies for the builders. The project is now complete and home is set to be furnished this month. It will be officially commissioned early in 2021. This facility will service a sparse community of approximately 10000 people spanning across a 20km radius.
During this phase, Lafarge participated in the collaboration sessions with other organizations under the UN thematic clusters. This enabled the company to plug in to the various efforts by other development partners, eliminating overlaps and improving coordination of programmes on the ground. As the project has been ongoing Lafarge has been reporting progress in the Chimanimani shelter cluster with various other development partners working on different infrastructure projects.