Zimbabwe – Hundreds Displaced as Flood Threat Continues

Zimbabwe continues to be plagued by the threat of heavy rain and flooding in the wake of the passage of Tropical Cyclone Dineo across southeastern Africa in the week of 16 to 20 February 2017.

Hundreds of people have been displaced from their homes in Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North. Many southern parts of the Zimbabwe recorded further heavy rain from 26 February.

Civil Protection Zimbabwe say that at least 115 people have died in floods in the country since October 2016.

Southern Areas on High Alert

The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Saviour Kasukuwere said at a press conference in the capital, Harare, on 28 February that most southern parts of the Zimbabwe, namely Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Manicaland and some parts of Midlands were still receiving downpours in excess of 100mm (4”) per day. He called on communities to avoid taking risks and to be on high alert as more rivers and dams continue to overflow.

One person has reportedly been killed by a landslide in Bikita in Mashonaland West, and hundreds have been marooned by flooded rivers.

“A number of communities have been marooned and more are likely to be marooned as the rainfall is expected to be sustained for the rest of the season,” he said.

Marooned Students

School hostels at Lundi Mission High School in the Mwenezi District of Masvingo, were flooded and some students became extremely distressed. District Administrator Ms Rosemary Chingwe said the alarm had been raised with the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ).

“The situation at the school is desperate because all the affected 270 girls and some teachers are staying in a church which is too small to accommodate them (and) some of the students are getting hysterical,” Chingwe said.

Calls for State of Emergency

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate has recommended that a state of emergency/disaster be declared in the affected provinces. This call was echoed by Benedict Sibasa, secretary general of the human rights group Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR). “The Institute also calls on members of the House of Assembly and Senators from Matabeleland to push for an urgent motion to urge the President to make this decision,” Sibasa said.

Tsholotsho District Worst Affected

According to a report by Civil Protection Zimbabwe, one of the areas worst affected by Dineo was Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North, where the Gwayi River and its tributaries burst their banks, inundating homes, fields, schools and infrastructure, and sweeping away livestock. A total of 859 people, of whom 460 are children, had been given emergency shelter at the Sipepa Rural Health Centre, while another 100 people had yet to be relocated, out of a total of 1,500 people at high risk. A further 6,000 people were considered to be at medium to high risk.

There are 190 families at Sipepa Rural Health Centre, but with tents only available for the accommodation of 42 households. Some tents have been erected at the Sipepa Secondary School as a semi-boarding facility for schoolchildren. 150 fleece blankets were donated and made available for the children.

Tsholotsho had received 72mm (2.8”) of rainfall during a 24-hour period in the course of Tropical Depression ex-Dineo’s passage along the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, while 72mm had also been recorded in Bulawayo and 100mm (4”) in Matopos. The Meteorological Services Department of Zimbabwe has forecast heavy rains in the coming ten days, and concern exists regarding the possible outbreak of communicable diseases owing to overcrowded conditions. The clinic lacks the resources that it needs to support hygiene and health promotion interventions.

In addition, 60% of the crops planted in the flooded areas during the January planting window have been affected by water-logging, although it may be possible to harvest crops planted earlier in the season at lower yields than usual. Loss of livelihood and displacement has led to high levels of food insecurity, with affected households relying solely on food programmes and donations.

Emergency Assistance Shortfall

Emergency assistance for the community, including water supply, food, medical and educational requirements is estimated at approximately US$316,000, of which only US$31,000 is available, leaving a shortfall of approximately US$285,000.

Summary of Extreme Weather Impacts in Zimbabwe: October 2016 to 22 February 2017

Figures according to a report of 27 February, 2017, by Civil Protection Zimbabwe.

  • No. of schools affected: 71
  • No. of affected health institutions: 5
  • Total no. of homeless families: 635
  • Total no. of homesteads affected/damaged: 1,936
  • No, of deaths due to lightning strikes: 12 deaths, 106 injured
  • No. of drowning: 115
  • No. of breached walls of small dams: 71
  • Number of marooned: 593 and 40 rescued, 3 drowned
  • No. of affected livestock: 64+ cattle, 137+ goats, 41+ donkeys, 2,073+ chickens

Photos of the Floods in Tsholotsho District

Floods in Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe, February 2017. Photo: Hon S Kasukuwere
Floods in Tsholotsho, Zimbabwe, February 2017. Photo: Hon S Kasukuwere

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