Zimbabwe – Floods Cause Hardship for Harare Communities

At least 6 people have died and dozens were made homeless after severe weather in Zimbabwe in January and February 2023.

Local media reported severe weather affected Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South, Mashonaland Central and the Midlands from 07 January to 11 January. Six fatalities were reported, including one person who died in flood waters in Gwanda, the capital of the province of Matabeleland South, and another in Mutasa in Manicaland Province. Strong winds caused damage in Mazowe in Mashonaland Central province, leaving two people dead, while 2 people died in lightning strikes in Chivi in Masvingo Province.

The Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe reported that 109 mm of rain fell in Beitbridge, Matabeleland South Province, in 24 hours to 07 January. In a 24-hour period to 11 January, Buhera, Manicaland Province, recorded 91 mm of rain.

Heavy rain fell in areas around the capital, Harare, from around 21 January. The Meteorological Services Department said 123 mm of rain fell in 24 hours to 22 January.

The heavy rain caused flooding in parts of the capital Harare and surrounding areas, displacing dozens of households. The Marimba River broke its banks in Budiriro, a suburb in the southwestern area of Harare, damaging or destroying 43 houses. Floods in nearby Chitungwiza in Mashonaland West damaged 57 houses and destroyed two.

Around the same time, flooding was also reported in Gokwe North and Gokwe South in the Midlands province, where rivers broke their banks. Around 60 households were affected and one house was destroyed.

In early February residents in Chiredzi town in Masvingo province were warned not to cross rivers which had swollen in recent days.

Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZIWA) reported that the Zhovhe Dam on the Mzingwane River north of Beitbridge has started spilling on 17 February. “As the country continues to receive rains, more dams are spilling,” ZIWA said. As of 15 February, levels of the Mazowe Dam were at 96% capacity and the Mazvikadei at 98.6%.

More heavy rain is expected over the coming days, the Meteorological Services Department warned.

Neighbouring countries of Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa have all seen severe flooding in recent weeks.

Rainfall warnings in Zimbabwe from 16 to 20 February 2023. Image: Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe