9 August 2012

Mozambique: Gaza Governor Wants Better School Construction

Maputo — The governor of the southern Mozambican province of Gaza, Raimundo Diomba, on Wednesday challenged the education authorities to adopt a school construction model which would allow schools to resist bad weather.

Speaking at a meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Ministry of Education in the coastal resort of Chidenguele, Diomba said that Gaza has frequently suffered from storms, most recently in the initial months of this year. The high winds damaged 70 classrooms in 22 schools.

"Gaza systematically suffers from the adverse effects of nature which destroy public facilities", said the Governor. "For us, the challenge is to have a construction model which builds schools that are capable of resisting the destructive force of nature".

Gaza's 762 schools contain 7,083 classrooms. Of these, 4,393 were built from conventional materials, while the remaining 2,690 were made of flimsy materials, easily damaged by heavy rains and high winds.

This problem affects almost all of Mozambique's 11 provinces. Cyclones "Dando" and "Funso" at the start of this year caused the deaths of 44 people, and destroyed or damaged 20,051 houses, 687 classrooms and 31 health units. 93,914 hectares of sown crops were also wiped out.

The Education Ministry recognises that many schools cannot resist storms, and says work is under way to reverse this scenario.

Eugénio Maposse, the Deputy National Director of Planning and Cooperation in the Ministry for the area of school building and equipment, said a project is being drawn up, in partnership with various national and foreign institutions, for making schools more resistant to the weather, and particularly to cyclones

"The question of sturdy schools is a challenge that we are winning little by little", he said. "We are working with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the World Bank and the Ministry of Public Works to solve the weaknesses in school building. We intend to draw up a project for the improved construction of schools".

"An expert Malagasy company was in the country to advise on aspects that should be taken into account in our building work", he added. Malagasy companies have great experience in this area, since its geographical location makes Madagascar highly vulnerable to cyclones.

Maposse said that the problem of the inability of schools to withstand storms arises from a multiplicity of factors ranging from lack of resources, to weaknesses in hiring contractors, controlling contract implementation, and inspecting the jobs.

Maposse admitted that the Ministry's ability to manage building contracts in the provinces "is very poor. Then we have the problem of inspection which is defective. Often the inspectors aren't on the ground and don't do their job".

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