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24 November 2014 01:44 (South Africa)
South Africa

In photos: The aftermath of Zimbabwe’s Tokwe-Mukorsi dam disaster

  • Ihsaan Haffejee
  • South Africa
Zimbabwe-flood-victims-IH-9.jpg

The Tokwe-Mukorsi dam project was intended to be the solution for the irrigation and electricity issues surrounding the communities of Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. However, the heaviest rainfall experienced in the province in over 40 years resulted in heavy flooding, culminating in the partial collapse of the dam. Thousands of rural farmers and their families had to flee their homes, leaving their crops and livestock behind, and at the mercy of the rising waters. By IHSAAN HAFFEJEE.

Construction of the dam began in 1998 but stalled in 2008. In 2011, an Italian company began the completion of the project.

By 9 February 2014, the area was declared a state of disaster.

South African aid organisation Gift of the Givers has delivered R2 million worth of aid to the people affected by the flooding in Zimbabwe. The residents of this camp are now fully dependent on aid from various organisations, and the government, as they have no other access to food, water and their other basic needs.

Founder and chairman of the Gift of The Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, indicated that the organisation was unsure of the scale of the disaster and the need for aid as it was difficult to get information on the extent of the flooding. “Having now visited the camp and seen the conditions and the amount of people living here we are very happy that we decided to respond to this disaster,” said Sooliman.

These displaced people, now numbering well over 20,000, have since been moved by the Zimbabwean government to the Chingwizi transit camp in the Naunetsi Ranch. Government has indicated that land in the Naunetsi Ranch will be allocated to the families affected by the flooding, but almost two months later, people are still awaiting compensation.

The inhabitants of this transit camp, who were once fully independent, implementing both commercial and subsistence farming, are now dependent on aid for all their basic needs.

Samuel Marebe, a 43-year-old farmer from the Nungirai village in the Chivi district, survived the flooding and now lives in the camp with his five children. “We were attacked by the water,” says Marebe. “My family managed to leave before our entire home and farm went under water. Other people became trapped by the water and had to be rescued by helicopter. Now we are here at Chingwizi camp, which is 178km from our home.

“Conditions here are difficult. With the overcrowding, we are worried about the health risks to our children, and they are also missing out on their schooling. We hope the government allocates us land very soon because now we are living like refugees in our own country,” said Marebe.

Photo: An elderly woman uses her cane as she struggles to her feet so that she can get in line to receive food from the centre which distributes aid to the residents of the Chingwizi transit Camp in Zimbabwe.

Photo: A large number of people at the Chingwizi transit camp in the province of Masvingo, Zimbabwe can be seen waiting near the centre which distributes food aid to the residents of the camp. Over 20,000 people are now living in the camp after being displaced by heavy flooding in the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam basin. Most of the people at the camp were rural farmers and their families who lost all their property in the floods and are now waiting for the Zimbabwean government to allocate them new land at the Nuanetsi Ranch.

Young children and babies wait for treatment outside the camp’s only clinic which has to cater to the large population of the Chingwizi transit Camp in Zimbabwe.

Photo: In the shade of a giant Baobab tree, a group of young girls play with a ball they made with plastic packets at the Chingwizi transit Camp in Zimbabwe. Parents are concerned that their children will miss out on their education as there is only one temporary school which is located 3,5km away from the camp that caters for all the kids living at Chingwizi.

Photo: Women from the Chingwizi transit camp in Zimbabwe pump water from a borehole for cooking and cleaning. Over 20,000 people are now living in the camp after being affected by flooding in the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam basin. Most of the people at the camp were rural farmers and their families who lost all their property in the floods and are now waiting for the Zimbabwean government to allocate them new land at the Nuanetsi Ranch.

Photo: A young boy in the Chingwizi transit camp in Zimbabwe shows off a little goat which he just caught. Most of the inhabitants of the camp are farmers, some of whom managed to salvage some of their animals as they fled the flooding which destroyed their properties.

Photo: Young girls can be seen playing with a skipping rope as women collect water behind them at he Chingwizi transit camp in Zimbabwe.

Photo: Women from the Chingwizi transit camp in Zimbabwe wait with outstretched hands for aid to be delivered to them. Over 20,000 people are now living in the camp after being affected by flooding in the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam basin. Most of the people at the camp were rural farmers and their families who lost all their property and livestock in the floods and are now waiting for the Zimbabwean government to allocate them new land at the Nuanetsi Ranch.