Pathways to emergency and disaster counselling in Zimbabwe

Shepard Mutsau, Ednah Billiat


Emergency and disaster counselling has not gained enough respect in developing nations despite a hodgepodge of traumatic situations in form of both man-made and natural catastrophes ranging from intractable wars, floods, landslides, droughts, conflict, terrorist attacks and epidemics characterizing the world today. Research prognosticates an increase in severity and incidence of droughts globally. Evidence indicates rising discontentment and conflicts globally. All these developments are insignia of a pending disaster with a potential of causing deep stress and trauma to the impacted and affected communities. Through examination of the Zimbabwean situation, this study makes a case for emergency and disaster counselling as both, a political good and a right to the citizens as part of the nations’ responsibility to protect its citizens. This study provides a springboard for taking a conscious relook at emergency and disaster counselling in contemporary disaster intervention management strategies administered to at risk societies. The study recommends institutional building in disaster risk counselling and enactment of disaster management laws which capture disaster counselling as a security and health right. The study further commends utilization of existing counselling institutions in Zimbabwe as well as setting best practice standards for operation which are supported by law. Further recommended is the  need for the Government; through the Civil Protection Unit to create regulatory, monitoring and evaluation frameworks as well as procedures and guidelines that regulate the disaster counselling practice in Zimbabwe.

Key words: Emergency, disaster counselling, disaster trauma, psychological health, stressed societies, human right

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