Zimbabwe: Rains Leave Trail of Destruction

13 February 2020

Heavy rains have caused extensive damage to infrastructure in Binga and Chimanimani where they destroyed 181 homes and swept away two bridges.

They have also severely damaged roads and homes, rendering the areas inaccessible.

A man died in Binga on Tuesday while two more are reportedly missing.

A detour bridge in the Biriiri area of Chimanimani was swept away on Tuesday, leaving Bumba, Biriiri and Chimanimani inaccessible.

Engineers and workmen from JR Goddard swiftly repaired the damaged detour bridge at Biriiri and got it back into operation by yesterday afternoon.

The damage to the bridge threatened the work of aid agencies who are still providing relief services in Chimanimani after Cyclone Idai hit the district last March.

The rains have also slowed down road repairs.

Department of Civil Protection director Mr Nathan Nkomo yesterday confirmed the damage.

In Binga, most pupils failed to attend Nsungwale Primary School this week after Nandobe Bridge was swept away.

Yesterday, only 40 out of 286 registered pupils were able to attend Nsungwale Primary School.

Said Mr Nkomo: "Forecasts from the Meteorological Services Department indicate that more incessant rains were expected up to today (yesterday) and our prayers are that they will subside to normal falls from there onwards.

"Some parts of Chimanimani, which are still recovering from the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai, have so far received more than 50 millimetres of rain and if this continues, many households will be affected."

The Skyline area, which was badly damaged by Cyclone Idai, has not been affected by the current heavy rains, and workmen from Masimba Construction were yesterday carrying out repairs to Chimanimani Village.

In Binga, Mr Nkomo said the Rapid Assessment Team yesterday visited all the 13 affected villages and confirmed that 181 homes had been affected.

"Of the 181 homes, 37 of them were completely destroyed. Our relief and psycho-support sub-committee has availed 110 bags of maize and we have instructed them to assist in the milling. We will meet all the costs.

"The district civil protection unit is in the process of identifying a suitable place to temporarily settle the affected families.

"One of the identified areas, which is about 3km to 5km from the affected area, is a virgin piece of land with no water.

"We need an area where there is easy access to water and sanitation facilities so that we will not expose the affected families to water-borne diseases. Our health sub-committee is also on high alert given the prevailing situation," he said.

Mr Nkomo said the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) had provided two water bowsers for the benefit of the families.

"As Government, we will also send money for use in coordinating the relief efforts in all affected areas. We have sourced two bales of blankets, 11 bales of clothes, boxes of laundry soap, shoes and tents to assist the families.

"We are also grateful for the support we are getting from development partners and we hope more will come on board to avail food and non-food items to the families," he said.

Mr Nkomo said there will be a meeting today with other stakeholders, including the Air Force of Zimbabwe, to scale up disaster preparedness.

Chief Sinakoma said the floods, which were preceded by heavy rains between Saturday and Monday morning, had never been experienced in the area before.

He said villagers lost grain, livestock, blankets, clothes, medication and cooking utensils after they were washed away by floods.

"This has never happened in my lifetime and it's sad that we have people who lost their property and other belongings due to floods. Most villagers will not recover after this devastating natural phenomenon," he said.

Chininga Bridge linking Siabuwa and Binga Centre has been extensively damaged and could cut off the community if not attended to.

There were fears that three children had been swept away by the floods when CPU held its morning briefing yesterday.

The community was relieved when the mother Ms Ndubeko Muzamba (24) emerged with her children.

"I grabbed my three children aged 3, 5 and 13 and rushed to a place of safety when I discovered that the water levels were rising. The water levels had reached knee level when we sought shelter at a nearby homestead which is on higher ground," she said.

Maneta 3 Village head Mr Petros Kembo (64) said he lost 10 goats, 40 chickens and five bags of maize after they were swept away by the floods.

Ms Janet Munsaka said all her kitchen utensils were swept away.

Acting Binga District Development Coordinator Mr Farai Marinyame said the water levels had subsided, but they will continue to monitor the situation.

He said food aid was needed to avert starvation.

Mr Marinyame said key stakeholders were mobilising resources to assist the affected families.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo is today expected to visit the affected communities where he would also distribute food and non-food items to affected families.

Early this week, the Meteorological Services Department forecast heavy rains in some parts of the country, but these were expected to subside from yesterday.

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