Zim sends SOS for flood victims

By Lovemore Ranga Mataire

Harare- Zimbabwe has appealed to international donors to assist thousands of people affected by floods since the beginning of the rainy season late last year.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko made the plea to diplomats and United Nations agencies saying the government needed at least US$189 million. Massive floods have left a trail of destruction in Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces with at least 271 dead. There is fear of more casualties in the drought-prone districts as weather forecasts have predicted more heavy rains.

“The amount of destruction that has been caused by the good rains, it is good rains, it is good but the other results are terrible. All we are saying to you is give a hand to our people,” said VP Mphoko.

A recent visit to Chivi District in the southern Masvingo province and Mberengwa in the central Midlands province revealed a bad state of affairs with schools, bridges and roads having been destroyed. Some families were still living in the open as Civil Protection Unit officials were struggling to cater for all affected families.

United Nations resident coordinator Bishow Parajuli said there was need for a multi-sectoral approach to victims of floods.

“We took note of the appeal by the Vice President. What is critical is to ensure the prevention of diseases by availing medical help to all those affected by floods,” said Parajuli.

Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency in early March and launched an appeal of  US$100 million, which has now been upped to US$189 million.

Head of department at National Strategies Studies at Great Zimbabwe University, Tarisayi Kudzayi Savious, told The Southern Times that communal areas of Nemauzhe and Neruvanga in Chivi were in the semi-arid region 4 and 5, which normally receive insignificant rains.

He said the situation has since changed, as from 2014 the areas have been receiving heavy rains due to dramatic climate change. A series of floods occasioned by the La-Nina effect and Cyclone Dineo have resulted in unimaginable destruction of crops and infrastructure.

In Nziyo Village under Chief Madyangove, Peter Mafurise was now living at an open camp set up by the Civil Protection Unit after the rains ravaged his homestead and submerged his crops.

“It was surreal. I woke up around midnight and realised that water was already coming into the room where I and my wife were sleeping. I woke my kids up in the next room and I could hear groans and cries from the livestock outside. I instantly realised the intensity of the rain and that we were in real trouble,” said Mafurise.

He immediately summoned his family and moved to higher ground in the nearby kopje as the water continued to rise.

Mafurise could hardly do anything as his house and cattle pen were swept away by the heavy downpour. He lost his three cattle and four goats, his only tangible form of wealth and manhood.

“We are literally relying on food hand outs. My fear is that children may be affected by diseases as the environment here is not ideal for human habitation,” said Mafurise.

He is one of the, 2,000 people rendered homeless by floods countrywide.

Statistics from Chivi Rural District Council indicated that the floods had so far destroyed 28 houses in one ward while in ward 17 Chikota Dam was breached. Chivi Rural District chairperson Dr Killer Zivhu said the rains had destroyed some schools like Maramba Primary School and children were currently not attending school. “We appeal to non-governmental organisations to come and assist in rebuilding the infrastructure. The government cannot manage on its own,” Dr Zivhu said.

April 2017
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