From the Cyclone Idai disaster to the COVID-19 pandemic : an account of inadvertent social capital enhancement in Eastern Chimanimani, Zimbabwe
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Zimbabwe suffered a devastating meteorological disaster when Cyclone Idai affected the southeast part of the country in March 2019. Barely a year after the cyclonic event, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic emerged, leading to the declaration of a nationwide lockdown that paralysed socio-economic systems. This article examines how social capital was autonomously cultivated and eventually utilised by the Cyclone Idai disaster survivors in Eastern Chimanimani to face the fresh socio-economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, a qualitative method embedded in a case study design was used. Data was collected using 30 purposively selected key respondents who interacted with victim communities from March to July 2020. A thematic content analysis approach was applied to obtain opinion patterns and subsequent inferences. The study results revealed a lack of immediate external disaster intervention during the Cyclone Idai disaster in Chimanimani. Accordingly, a strong sense of collective action developed between victim communities, thus enabling them to perform hasty operations meant to salvage lives and property. The enhanced social capital helped the Cyclone Idai victims to face the new COVID-19 lockdown challenges. This article recommends pro-active and well-coordinated government and private sector disaster response strategies supporting local area initiatives to minimise loss of lives and property during disaster situations.