Posted by: APO | 18 June 2008

Testing of Zanzibar Power Cable a Success – UN Experts finalize their work

Testing of Zanzibar Power Cable a Success – UN Experts finalize their work

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, June 18, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The first test of the repaired electricity cable supplying Zanzibar with power from mainland was carried out today. Initial results show that power is likely to be restored within a few days. The UN and development partners have been supporting the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar during the outage, but more support is needed to deal with the effects of the crisis.


The positive results of the testing come as the team of seven UN experts in disaster response are finalizing their work in Zanzibar. The group of experts from the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Mechanism (UNDAC) are leaving the country tomorrow after having completed their ten-day mission.


“So far indications are that electricity is coming back to Zanzibar step by step. But that does not mean that the problem is solved, as lots of challenges still remain for the island to fully recover from the crisis”, said the UNDAC Team Leader, Mr. Pierre Gelas.


The specialized UN Team came to Tanzania to assist the Zanzibar authorities assess the impact of the power outage on the population of Unguja. They provided guidance and technical support, including crisis communication, on how to develop a governmental strategic framework and action plan covering the main scenarios: (1) rapid restoration of power, and (2) a prolongation of the crisis if power cannot be restored.


The team has worked closely with the Zanzibar Crisis Management Team to develop the Response Action Plan, including crises communication, to address the negative consequences of the power crisis.


“We have enjoyed a very good collaboration with the national authorities, which has helped a lot in overcoming the challenges. The authorities will continue to communicate to the public on a daily basis to guide them on health and safety issues,” added the UNDAC Team Leader, Mr. Pierre Gelas.


The four-week power outage on the island of Unguja has stretched generator capacity to the limit in order to provide power for water pumps and for the medical sector and other social services. As part of a coordinated UN support to Zanzibar, UNICEF Tanzania provided 12 back-up power generators to reactivate water pumps that have been out of service since May 21st.


“We have been impressed by the way the people of Zanzibar have continued their daily life during the crisis – in an abnormal situation with a lot of difficulties,” noted the UNDAC team member, Mr. Gili Shenhar.


The main sectors of the economy – agriculture, tourism and small scale businesses – have been heavily impacted by the power outage. Government income has been severely reduced through loss of revenue and taxes and financial resources have been drained in order to address the most urgent issues.


Even if today’s successful testing of the underwater cable and initial restoration of power will lead to a rapid restoration of the supply to the entire island, economic recovery will be challenging. Many sectors need financial support and Government resources have been critically depleted during the crises.


UN Agencies based in Tanzania will along with development partners continue to provide support to the Zanzibar authorities. The UN is providing short term advisory services to assist the Government with the development of an economic recovery strategy, but further support is needed to improve the Government’s capacity to deal with possible future disasters. Strengthening national disaster preparedness and response capacity is one of the focus-areas of the One Programme, which is being implemented in the context of UN reform in Tanzania. Zanzibar is one of the geographical areas addressed in this joint programme




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