Zimbabwe – Floods Leave 246 Dead as Government Appeals for Assistance

The government of Zimbabwe has appealed to international donors to help those affected by floods in the country during the 2016 to 2017 rainy season.

In a statement the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National House, the Hon Saviour Kasukuwere MP said that 246 people have died, 128 people injured and approximately 1,985 made homeless by flooding in the country since October 2016.

The country’s Civil Protection agency reported a few days ago that 859 people remained displaced after flooding in Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North, where the Gwayi River and its tributaries burst their banks.

Floods in Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe, February 2017.

Across the country as a whole, the minister said that over 2,500 homes have been damaged since October and some communities are still cut off by the floods. Roads, schools and health facilities have also suffered damage. The districts of Mberebgwa, Insiza and Lupane have suffered major road damage. Full damage assessments are yet to carried out in some areas that remain inaccessible due to flooding.

Mr Kasukuwere said that since the onset of La Niña the country had experienced “an astounding shift from a drought condition to an excessively wet situation” and there have been heavy (rain) falls that have surpassed all previous years. The situation was exacerbated by Tropical Cyclone Dineo in mid February.

Mr Kasukuwere added that “85% of dams in the country are full and spilling, thus even low amounts of rainfall will cause flooding.” Around 70 small and medium sized dams have already been breached.

In some areas the country’s old and often poorly built housing infrastructure has been unable to withstand the severe weather. Approximately 2,579 houses have been damaged by the heavy rain and flooding. In Old St Mary’s suburb in Harare nine houses have collapsed and a further 2,500 are at risk of collapse. Similarly in Mabvuku, around 500 old houses are also at risk of collapse.

The affected populations are in dire need of assistance, said Mr Kasukuwere. There is an inadequate supply of tents and an urgent need for blankets, clothing, food and medical supplies in affected areas.

The statement continued: “I am therefore appealing to the development partners, provate sector and general public inclusive of those in the disaspora to rally with Government to support the emergency relief programs…”

Update: UN Report

In a report of 01 March, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Matabeleland North is worst affected area. Other affected provinces include Midlands, Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Manicaland and Harare.

Map of flooded areas of Zimbabwe, March 2017. Image: UNOCHA

OCHA added “There is still risk of flooding in the country as most parts continue to receive heavy rainfall. Furthermore, the situation is compounded by the fact that the ground is saturated as a result most of the rainfall received is converted to surface runoff which may exacerbate flood conditions.

“According to the Flash Flood Guidance system the forecasted areal precipitation is concentrated mainly in the Eastern Highlands and also parts of Masvingo, however flooding is forecasted to be mainly in the Chipinge and Chimanimani District.”

According to the OCHA report, river levels are high and many still threaten further flooding:

  • Zambezi river – Increase in flows due to incoming runoff from the upstream countries
  • Odzi river – Increase in flows. Moderate flood risk in Middle Sabi
  • Runde river – There is high risk of flooding in Runde up to the confluence with Save
  • Mazowe river – Flows are now decreasing but above average
  • Gwayi river – There is high risk of flooding in the Tsholotsho and Binga District Area.

See the full UNOCHA report here (pdf).

Flood Summary

Last updated: March 1, 2017
Event
Zimbabwe, February to March 2017
Date
February 16, 2017
Type
River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall, Long-term rainfall

Locations

A - Tsholotsho (Zimbabwe)
B - Umzingwane (Zimbabwe)

Magnitude

River level
Overflowing
Gwayi river, Tsholotsho - February 16 to February 22, 2017
dates estimated
Rainfall level
223 mm in 24 hours
Rupike, Masvingo - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
169 mm in 24 hours
Bikita, Masvingo - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
149 mm in 24 hours
Zaka, Masvingo - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
111 mm in 24 hours
Kezi, Masvingo - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
78 mm in 24 hours
Serima Mission, Masvingo - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
75 mm in 24 hours
Esigodini, Matabeland South - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
74 mm in 24 hours
Filabusi, Matabeland South - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
84 mm in 24 hours
Zvishavane, Midlands - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
126 mm in 24 hours
Ngungunyana (Chipinge), Manicaland - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
105 mm in 24 hours
Chinpinge, Manicaland - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
100 mm in 24 hours
Chimanimani, Manicaland - February 26 to February 27, 2017
Rainfall level
96 mm in 24 hours
Chisengu, Manicaland - February 26 to February 27, 2017

Damages

Evacuated
859 people
Tsholotsho district - February 16, 2017
Evacuated
50 people
Mberengwa district - February 20, 2017
Additional
1 bridge
Umzingwane - February 20, 2017
bridge destroyed