There has been an encouraging response to calls for aid for the victims of Cyclone Idai, which left a trail of destruction in three southern African countries.
The tropical cyclone swept through Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe last week, leaving more than 700 dead, and scores displaced.
The Botswana Red Cross Society said the response has been overwhelming following a clarion call to assist those affected.
Scores of people have donated items such as blankets, sanitary pads, non-perishable food and cash.
The Botswana government has also called on the public to donate, with several drop-off points set up. The government has urged people to start donating from today.
The Zimbabwean Embassy in Gaborone is working closely with the Botswana Red Cross Society to put together the donations, with the first consignment expected to be delivered in Zimbabwe in the first week of April.
Botswana Red Cross Society marketing and communications officer, Gorata Fembo said they would continue to receive donations up to the end of April, and all three countries would be assisted.
“The response has been positive from the public and the private sector. We have about eight locations where we are receiving donations. There has been an indication that there is need for sanitation, shelter, water, among others,” Fembo said.
Red Cross’ disaster management coordinator, Onkemetse Joseph said vital lessons could be learned from Cyclone Idai in terms of disaster preparedness.
“We should learn from this and start preparing for the future. As the Red Cross our role is to hand hold Batswana and build the resilience together,” Joseph said.
Zimbabwe Embassy head of chancery, Margaret Ruparanganda said they have set up a committee tasked with logistics around the donations. She urged the public to form social media groups for those outside Gaborone, in order to enable them to coordinate collections.
“We have met the real time needs of the situation back home. The immediate needs have received an overwhelming response and we are now looking towards getting assistance for medium and long term needs for livelihoods that need to be reconfigured. This will also include infrastructure development,” Ruparanganda said.
She said a book of condolences to be signed by diplomats, would be opened at the embassy today.
Cyclone Idai is one of the deadliest to hit southern Africa in living memory. The United Nations has said the official casualty figure will only be determined once flood waters recede.
Thousands remain trapped by the flood waters, and international aid workers have arrived in the three countries for rescue missions.