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DISASTER STUDENTS CONTINUE TO OFFER A HELPING HAND TO COMMUNITIES THAT WERE AFFECTED BY THE FLOODS IN KZN

DISASTER STUDENTS CONTINUE TO OFFER A HELPING HAND TO COMMUNITIES THAT WERE AFFECTED BY THE FLOODS IN KZN

Second- and third-year Disaster and Risk Management students under the Faculty of Management Sciences at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) are serving as Flood Disaster Volunteers within the eThekwini Municipality.

In response to the nature and magnitude of the disaster, DUT’s Dr Mal Reddy, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Provincial and eThekwini Municipal Disaster Management Advisory Forum, as well as the Academic Coordinator saw the need for the DUT students to contribute and uphold the societal responsibilities. Students working in close collaboration with practitioners in the field, gain a first-hand practical experience, demonstrating the clear blend of theory and practice.

These students are working under the leadership of Mr Vincent Ngubane, the Head of the Disaster Management Centre, and his team. The critical responsibilities of volunteers in the project includes profiling of displaced persons at the various mass care centres, verification of the disaster beneficiaries, general disaster assessment and other related disaster response activities as deemed necessary to support the multi-agency eThekwini Municipality Disaster Team.

The students are gaining an in-depth exposure of the practice in Disaster and Risk Management as they are involved in diverse activities relating to disaster response, recovery, and disaster risk reduction. These opportunities assist in building adaptive graduates with the confidence of taking on real world challenges.

Ayanda Khoza, Disaster and Risk Management student volunteer and a Project Coordinator, gave a brief insight on what inspired her to join the project.

“The most valid reason that inspired me to join the project is that I am very keen in helping others in times of need, therefore as a disaster student I had to avail myself in these tough times that we faced as the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) community and put on a helping hand. Besides helping around, this gave me and other students a great exposure towards the roles that are played by disaster practitioners on the field,” she added.

The project has now collaborated with the Public Employment Programme (PEP) aimed at speeding the recovery stage and building resilience amongst all affected wards by raising awareness and educating community members. The project has already produced over 1300 job opportunities, and these jobs are led by unemployed graduates. The disaster and risk management students of DUT formed part of the two-day induction delegation for the general workers at the Durban Exhibition Centre. They formed part of the training delegates for the supervisor training, the training focused on disasters, disaster risks, vulnerabilities, building resilience and coping measures, the supervisors were also trained to lead and train the general workers.

As of 13 May 2022, approximately 30 DUT Disaster volunteers have been retained to continue with disaster response and recovery activities as planned and coordinated be the eThekwini Municipality.

“Based on the importance and the positive impact in the efficiency of disaster risk management. Mitigating disaster risks and impacts through education, building resilience, awareness’s and building back better is expected upon completion of the project, I see the project expanding from just KZN to other disaster-prone provinces and countries. This project is also likely to be adopted by other educational institutions, countries and maybe form part of the curriculums in intermediate phase learning programmes,” said Samkelisiwe Fortunate Zulu, a Risk and Disaster student volunteer and a project coordinator.

Pictured: Some of the KZN Flood Disaster student volunteers.

Nomvelo Zulu

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