African Journal of Social Work

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Natural disasters in Zimbabwe: The primer for social work intervention

Carol Mhlanga, Taruvinga Muzingili, Memory Mpambela


Around the globe, social workers have been increasingly called to work in  disaster settings and collaborate with many actors including faith-based  humanitarian organisations. Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe, social work  practice still perpetuates the values and ideals of neo-liberalism; without careful consideration of the consequences of natural disasters on  vulnerable populations. This study was conducted in Tsholotsho, paying attention to the victims of Cyclone Dineo. Using mixed methodology, the study established that natural disasters have undermined the social functioning of vulnerable groups of people; children, women, elderly and persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe. The paper also unravels the role of social work in disaster management; before, during and post disaster phases. Using Cyclone Dineo as a case study, the study found out that social work interventions were limited before and during the disaster phases. The profession was reactive and participated in the aftermath of the disaster. It was therefore recommended that social work’s role in disaster settings can be improved through; advocacy, inter-professional collaboration and extensive research in disaster issues. The paper concluded that social work values and principles assign the profession to respond timeously to the contemporary challenges facing the society.

Key terms: Natural disasters; social work; relevance; Zimbabwe

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