Nqobile Tshili in Bulawayo and Lloyd Gumbo in Harare
Communities ravaged by Cyclone Dineo are facing a near fatal humanitarian hazard that calls for urgent Government and aid agencies intervention, and the increase of food aid in the affected communities should be a priority, it has been learnt.
In that regard, the Department of Social of Welfare is already assessing the impact of the floods with regards to how it affected food security, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Prisca Mupfumira, said yesterday.
“If anything, because of the flood situation, we are going to increase our efforts in certain areas that are affected,” said Minister Mupfumira in an interview. “We have no intentions of stopping food aid until the people have harvested.
“After the people have harvested, we are going to engage Zimvac (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee) to map the way forward, especially regarding floods victims.”
A tour of the affected areas by officials from Government, the United Nations and non-governmental organisations revealed a dire situation that could be fatal with regards to access to food and amenities in the affected areas.
The most affected areas toured by the delegation were in Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who chairs the Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management, that also comprises development partners, led the team that toured Nkankezi Bridge in Insiza, Jeka Bridge near Chegato Mission in Mberengwa, Lundi Christian High School in Mwenezi district and Chiredzi where they were told of the humanitarian threats the communities face.
The team comprised Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, United Nations resident coordinator, Mr Bishow Parajuli, Unicef deputy representative, Dr Jane Muita and Save the Children country director, Ms Sarah Blin.
Insiza Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Fidres Manombe told the committee that destruction of the Nkankezi Bridge posed a serious danger to the Insiza community.
“There is a looming disaster in this area because we don’t have proper sanitary facilities, yet a lot of people are dropped here and wait for buses from the other end,” he said.
“We also have local people selling food stuffs to travellers here, which could result in them eating contaminated food. We need mobile toilets urgently because at the moment people resort to open defecation, which poses a danger to the community.
“The destruction has also resulted in Filabusi, which hosts a big referral hospital, going for two weeks without water.”
Insiza acting district administrator, Ms Siceco Gwayi, revealed that an expecting mother died while giving birth because the ambulance could not cross Nkankezi Bridge to fetch her.
Speaking to the Minister Kasukuwere-led committee at Jeka Bridge, Mberengwa District Administrator, Mr White Nkoma, said the floods had affected water supply to a local referral clinic at Jeka and also Chegato High School that had more than 1 000 boarding pupils.
“The water system was destroyed by the floods, which has resulted in Jeka clinic and Chegato boarding school not having water,” he said. “The situation is dire at Chegato where the school has more than 1 000 boarders. Jeka clinic is a referral clinic that covers a number of areas in this district.
“It also offers maternity services. You can imagine the effects of not having water.”
Mr Nkoma said about seven day scholars had been marooned at school because they could not cross a crocodile-infested Mwenezi River since the bridge had been swept away.
Mr Parajuli asked about the crop situation following the floods, to which Mr Nkoma said most of them were a write-off as a result of waterlogging.
He said the community would require food aid since they did not expect to harvest much.
Mwenezi district administrator, Ms Rosemary Chingwe, said pupils at Lundi Christian High School were living in danger as Runde River that originates in Gweru regularly flooded even if it did not rain in the district.
“There is need for early warning systems so that people in this area can be in the watch,” he said. “Female students were marooned recently and it had to take the rescue team from the army to evacuate them.”
Some of the girls students narrated their ordeal to the committee, saying they were frightened thinking that they would drown.
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament, Brigadier-General Callisto Gwanetsa (Retired), told the committee at Buffalo Range that villagers in his constituency were isolated from Chiredzi Town where they were expected to get humanitarian services.
He appealed to Government to urgently build bridges along Runde River, particularly at Chipinda and Chilonga after the existing ones were swept away by floods a long time ago.
Rtd Brig-Gen Gwanetsa said health personnel and teachers were now shunning the area because there was no connection to Chiredzi town.