Sunday, 24 November 2019

ANOTHER DISASTER LOOMS IN CHIMANIMANI


The onset of the rains, accompanied by hail, strong winds and lightning, has raised fears that hundreds of Cyclone Idai survivors who are still living in tents at Ngangu and Kopa in Chimanimani East will be negatively affected.

When the cyclone ravaged the district in March this year, it killed hundreds, and destroyed homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure like roads and bridges.

The damage is estimated at US$1 billion. Eight months down the line, Chimanimani is on the brink of yet another disaster, this time likely to affect those still living in tents if the rains indeed come.
  
“We are facing another disaster in the event of heavy rains,” remarked a friend working in Chimanimani yesterday.

The situation in the camps is not good, worse on a rainy day because on the part of the victims, the tents are inhabitable.

The tents were never a long-term solution, but an alternative in the middle of a crisis.

Water seeps into people’s tents when it rains, raising moisture levels, providing fertile grounds for diseases like pneumonia. Water-borne diseases like cholera also thrive in such unhygienic conditions.

In the event of a violent storm, the tents easily collapse.

On the part of Government, a promise to build modern homes for the victims was made, but the pledge is yet to be fulfilled owing to resource limitations.

While it remains Government’s wish to build the victims modern houses, it might as well give the people pieces of land and allow them live a normal life.

Chimanimani East legislator Cde Joshua Sacco confirmed that the victims wanted to start on a new note.

When The Herald visited Ngangu recently, the victims made it clear they wanted to be allocated pieces of land elsewhere within the district. 

It seems giving the victims land is the only feasible option now since time is running out, while Government’s desire to build the victims houses requires huge amounts of resources.

But this option is cancelled out as an immediate solution.

Keeping the victims in tents as the Government and its partners build them houses sounds well, but that requires time and resources.

In fact, such an idea explains the state of affairs on the ground at Ngangu and Kopa today — the people still living in tents.

Their patience is wearing thin. To them, the idea of having a modern house built for them now sounds more like a promise.

“It is better if they give us pieces of land elsewhere even in the villages and we build our own houses, Mrs Laina Sithole, a mother of three, told The Herald at Ngangu recently.

They can just give us the money to start up. The rain season is upon us and we were psychologically and physically affected by Cyclone Idai.”

Another Cyclone Idai victim, Mrs Tambudzai Chikwee, had a residential stand at Ngangu before Cyclone Idai swept across the township. 

“I had a residential stand in Ngangu and if given a piece of land I will be able to build a house, she said. If our Government is having problems with servicing the land and building us houses, they can just give us stands and we will do the rest by ourselves. We yearn to live a normal life like anyone else.”

Mrs Chiwee’s husband works in South Africa.

Cde Sacco visited the camps recently and got the same message from the victims — give us housing stands .

“There are plans to build the victims wooden structures in the camps for now, but when I visited them last week they indicated they wanted to be allocated stands and the wooden structures be erected on the new sites,” he said.

Cde Sacco feels allocating the victims the residential stands could be part of the healing process.

“It helps the victims forget the past and look into the future with hope, he said. Confining them to camps and tents is a replay of the horror they suffered in March. As long as they are in tents, memories of the Cyclone Idai disaster continue to haunt them. 

“The people in tents are able bodied and some have the capacity to build own homes with little assistance. Giving them stands will not only reduce pressure on Government, but on the victims as well.”

Three farms were identified for the relocation of the victims of the cyclone months ago, namely Greenmount, the Flats and Nedziwa. As of September, layout plans had been completed at two of the farms.

These showed that Greenmount will have 1 333 stands and Nedziwa 633, while the planning process was still underway at the Flats.

The fact that two months ago technocrats were still at the planning process stage confirms the snail pace of the relocation efforts.

What then must be done considering the MSD’s heavy rains forecast and the fate of victims in the tents? 

There is urgent need for the temporary relocation of Cyclone Idai victims to Government properties in the district now that the rainy season has started.

In fact, the 2019/2020 rainy season has shown signs of violent storms, already destroying schools and homes across Chimanimani East and other parts of the country.

Such State properties include the District Development Fund (DDF) Biriri Camp, the Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA) farm at Rusitu and Nyanyadzi houses.

ARDA Rusitu has beautiful houses, the majority of which are now home to illegal gold panners as there are no serious farming activities underway.

The estate is close to Ngangu as well as it is to Kopa. It will cost less to move some the victims there. Herald

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