Tsholotsho 2016/17 flood disaster

On an annual basis trends have shown that more than 8 percent of Zimbabwe is subject to frequent flooding during the rainfall season as per findings of the Management Plain Study of 2017. These floods cause deaths and cause damage to infrastructure, loss of property and affect livelihoods negatively as this lead to displacement of people.

The 20162017 rainfall season was characterised by extensive damages country wide, mostly due to the Cyclone Dineo-induced floods that affected more than 36 districts in the country amongst them being the hardest heat Tsholotsho District in Matabeleland North Province where a total of 319 households were displaced.

They lost their homes and livelihoods to flooding. A number of districts were also affected by the floods but it was Tsholotsho where the magnitude of the hydro-meteorological hazards was greatly felt. There were significant responses to the appeal by Government and development partners where emergencies relief and temporary shelter was provided at Sipepa Camp after the President declared it a national disaster.

Following the favourable response from our friends, the People’s Republic of China who donated $1 million, the Republic of India the same amount, the Republic of Algeria ($100 000), the Republic of Botswana (building materials), the Republic of Namibia (fish), the UN family (emergency relief fund), Zimplats and Econet (foodstuffs and building materials respectively), German Agro Foster and Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe (water reticulation programme at Sawudeni and Tshino respectively), the Government of Zimbabwe made a bold decision of relocating the affected families to higher ground.

To accelerate the implementation of the programme the Ministry has prioritised it under a 100-day programme. Given this drive the Government will intensify the house construction capacity by mobilising the Public Works Department and the District Development Fund.

As the victims were relocated to the two areas, there was urgent need to upgrade the social amenities (schools, clinics, and water sources) to cater for the affected influenced by the priority of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which advocates for Building Back Better. The Government had to procure durable construction materials from Bulawayo having considered the challenges associated with the Kalahari soils.

Achievements to date:

Solar (piped ) water scheme

A completed classroom block (Higherlife foundation)

319 Blair toilets lined up to slab level

Food donations of rice from the Government of India and medicine for the local clinics.

The early recovery programme in Tsholotsho is futuristic in that the settlements are well planned paving way for the supply of both tapped water and power utilities and this will curb environmental degradation as well as rural to urban migration. This has been facilitated through donations from partners such as the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe which drilled state-of- the-art solar powered borehole and a reservoir tank by District Development Fund for access to water for the elderly and members of the community provided impetus to the whole water reticulation programme by providing pipes and reservoir tanks which make the programme easy to implement.

In addition, after the destruction of some boreholes and wells in the district by the floods, rehabilitation improved the water supply in the district. More than nine boreholes have been drilled (two in Ward 21, two in Ward 23 and five in Ward 7) funded by Moriti.

The district now has more than two piped water schemes which are pumped by renewable energy source which is solar energy in Wards 9 and 4 which are now serving a total of three schools and the surrounding community funded by UNICEF. The community now has access to reliable and sustainable water sources.

Way forward

Given the challenges posed by Kalahari sands where more than 110-metre boreholes are to be drilled to access water there is need for experts to come up with technologies to harness water in such areas so as to address the problem of that nature holistically.

There is also a need to engage experts in the building industry to devise better and cheaper ways to construct houses in an eco-friendly environment to ensure that communities do not succumb to the adverse impacts of climate change. The improvements realised from such recovery programmes need to be sustained by the construction of key enabling infrastructure especially the Gwayi Shangani Dam.

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