Red Cross intervenes as floods affect livelihoods

HARARE - Most rural families in Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces have had their livelihoods seriously affected as they lost their goats, chicken and cattle due to heavy incessant rains induced by the Tropical depression Dineo.

The ground is now saturated and can no longer absorb more rains.

Rivers are registering heavy flows with some feared to be back flowing.

In some instances, flooding is happening at the confluence of major rivers in particular areas.

Families have been displaced with houses completely destroyed, especially those constructed using pole and mud.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has been on the ground to conduct rapid assessments in some of the areas and assessments are still ongoing.

Distribution of relief material is also ongoing.

Midlands Province

ZRCS president Edson Mlambo said the effects of Cyclone Dineo hit Mberengwa District where heavy rains pounded the area leading to the Mwanezi River bursting its banks and affecting families along the river, stretching from the west all the way to the east of the district.

“The assessment that the ZRCS carried out established that a total of nine wards have been affected, especially those which fall along the Mwenezi River.

The river burst its banks. “According to the DCP update a total number of 40 households have been displaced and moved to higher ground,” said Mlambo.

He said some are staying with relatives and 15 families housed at a local school (Chebvute Primary School) (number could be more as the other part of the district could not be accessed due to damaged bridges).

“One person drowned and the case reported to Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Mberengwa and the body was found downstream.

Two major bridges (Jeka and Chebvute) which link Mberengwa East and the district centre were extensively damaged and now impassable leaving people stranded on either side of the bridge.”

Mlambo said between February 14 and 19, a lot of rain was received in several areas of Gokwe South District, resulting in some low lying areas experiencing floods that destroyed crops in the fields, livestock mainly goats and chickens, some houses, clothes and kitchen utensils.

“Most of the fields in the low lying areas along Sasame and Manyoni rivers and their feeder streams were covered by sand, silt or mud. A total of 121 households were affected.

“Some lost part of their field crops but in some cases certain families lost almost everything they had planted this season.

“Families also lost some of their livestock and household property. Sanitation facilities as well as the sources of clean water have also been affected by the floods. Food stored in granaries was soaked and some were carried away leaving families without reliable source of food to feed the families until harvest period,” said Mlambo.

Masvingo Province

ZRCS reported that heavy rains were received on February 18 causing some flash floods in ward 29 of Masvingo District.

The same heavy rains also left a trail of destruction in Chivi ward 29 and the Red Cross team also visited Chivi for an assessment.

“As for Masvingo District, about 30 households were affected as their household items were soaked in water. The main area affected was of food as most of the food stuffs were soaked. A school in ward eight of the same district had its roofs blown off by wind,” said Mlambo.

Njovo Primary School had four classrooms affected and currently the pupils are learning under trees since the affected structures are no longer safe for use.

A total number of 30 households in ward 29 had their houses affected by flash floods. 

No displacements took place, however, there is a great need for food assistance. 

The Department of Social Service intervened by including the affected families in their beneficiary list and they will get 50kg of maize grain every month.

“In Chivi district, on February 18,  20 households in Ward 29 of Chivi District Village 14 were heavily affected by flash floods from Tokwe River.

The floods destroyed nine households completely. A total of 45 people were affected by these floods.”

Mlambo said torrential rains have left a number of households homeless in Chiredzi District after destroying houses and property worth thousands of dollars.

“The heavy rains that were accompanied by strong winds uprooted trees and drenched property inside most homes over the weekend of February 17 to 19.

“Many were left with no food as the houses collapsed while everything was inside the house. Others were left injured as houses were collapsing on them or while trying to escape. Therefore, shelter problems are very high as many households have all their structures destroyed and they are currently assisted by neighbours.

“An assessment was conducted and it can be reported that the most affected areas were Ward four, 20, 25, and 26. A total number of 35 households in ward four and 20 had they houses and huts destroyed to the ground.”


In places like Tsholotsho where families have been displaced by floods a camp has been set up.

At the close of day on February 24,  a total number of 850 households had been evacuated in Tsholotsho’s Sipepa ward, an area which is low lying, hence flood prone and more are still to come.

These displaced households are being accommodated at a camp that has been set up with the assistance from the Red Cross.

ZRCS secretary-general, Maxwell Phiri said after reports of people being marooned the Red Cross activated volunteers in particular those trained in shelter construction.

“Currently, 35 family tents have been erected and two Rub Hall tents have been put up to support four families each. At least 20 shelters using tarpaulins have been constructed as well and about 200 single sheets distributed for flooring.

“Temporary latrines have been sited and constructed. A total of 23 have been constructed (eight from Red Cross, 15 by other partners).

“Red Cross is planning on putting 14 more. It is expected that the families are going to continue in the camp for the next month. There is strict screening being conducted to ensure that deserving cases are admitted into the camp,” said Phiri.

The ZRCS secretary-general, however, said there were current gaps in the camps and these include provision of dignity kits, lighting equipment, poles for tarpaulins, psycho social support and food assistance.

“There is need for water provision as most boreholes are contaminated, hence water purification. Latrines have collapsed in most areas raising risk of diarrheal diseases while dignity kits comprising sanitary wear and other necessities for women are in short supply. As in such disasters food assistance is required in most locations.”

In Matabeleland South Province in the Umzingwane District, the ZRCS covered all the five villages of Ward 2 namely Siphezi, Sihlengeni, Hlozamandla, Irrigation and Ngwabi.

“According to this preliminary rapid assessment, Sihlengeni was the most affected (40 households) followed by Ngwabi (10 households) Siphezini (five households) Hlozamandla (five households) nothing was recorded in other villages.

“About 300 people (60 households) in total have been affected of which 150 people (30 households) are in urgent need of assistance.

“Many houses had been submerged by water and some collapsed due to saturation particularly mud-built houses. Some houses are built of bricks with no cement thus making them prone to incessant rains.

“Food staffs had been washed away and some water supply and sanitation facilities infrastructures have been flooded and contaminated including two boreholes and approximately 22 toilet rooms which has increased the risk of airborne diseases.

“Some homes had been deserted as the affected population sought refuge in the neighbourhoods.

“A looming threat of back flows of tributaries of Umzingwane River is expected to trigger further flooding along the tributaries which may affect approximately 20 more homesteads in the surrounding low laying areas,” said Phiri.

In Bulilima District, the worst affected area is Huwana village in ward eight. On the ground it was discovered that the flooding was a result of two backflows of water from Manzamnyama and Huwana rivers.

This flooding occurred during the night and early morning of February 18 where there was wide spread destruction of property including the washing away of small livestock like goats and chickens.

“Most of the affected houses lay in a low area which is also a water way. Among the 32 affected homesteads 20 homesteads were totally destroyed.

“The greatest need as expressed by the affected community was provision of shelter and food. As more rains continue to pound the district it is expected that more house hold will be affected,” said Phiri.


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