Early this year, violent storms yielding above-normal rains of 800mm against normal rains of between 350mm and 450mm, destroyed several homesteads in Matabeleland, Matobo district, Ward 10, Tjehondo village, under Chief Fuyana.
These left already vulnerable villagers desolate and desperate, forced to squat with neighbours and friends.
The 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Zimbabwe, prioritises responses to the effects of floods, drought, COVID-19-related restrictions, and the prevailing economic situation.
In February 2021, Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Honourable July Moyo stated that with the generous support of donors, who contributed nearly US$212 million to the humanitarian response in 2020, development partners were able to reach close to 4.2 million women, men and children with critical and life-saving interventions by the end of November, in support of government-led initiatives.
Nearly 4.1 million people received food assistance, an estimated 743,000 people were provided with clean water and safe sanitation; 1.5 million people were supported to access essential health services; and over 224,000 boys and girls were covered by child protection services.
Despite this, when Zimbabwe entered 2021, climatic shocks, economic challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic, and containment measures had already left an estimated 6.8 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
District Development Co-ordinator (DDC) Mr. Obey Chaputsira confirmed reports that several households were affected by the rains, especially around February. This was due to Tropical Cyclone Eloise which entered Zimbabwe with wind speeds of 160 kilometres per hour. This followed swiftly on the heels of Tropical Storm Chalane, a tropical depression that made landfall in December.
In response, the DDC had to carry out an assessment in the 24 wards of the district to determine exactly how many households were affected.
"As such, we had to present a report to a number of partners and fortunately the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) funded Sizimele, came through to assist us in the 15 households that we had identified." Said Chaputsira.
Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF)-Sizimele and the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) stepped in to rebuild the homes of the 15 villagers, at a cost of US$3,000. The villagers came forward to provide labour, river sand and other locally available materials.
The new homes valued at approximately US$6,000 per unit, comprise of two-rooms, and a stand-alone toilet to make them habitable.
The affected families also received non-food items such as buckets, blankets and US$18 per individual, up to a maximum of five people per homestead. In addition, ZRBF-Sizimele secured and is in the process of distributing educational material, to all households in the district.
"We are giving them textbooks, exercise books and a number of other educational materials because we want the children to go back to school."
ZRBF-Sizimele, Project Lead, Mr. Diego Matsvange, confirmed that only one of the families had to be relocated because their homestead was built almost in a riverine area. Presenting not only an ecological but a potential humanitarian crisis.
"In our disaster response strategy, we always strive to build better than before." Said Matsvange.
ZRBF-Sizimele confirmed that the other villagers would take ownership of their newly built homes, on their family homesteads where they were before. The project is expected to be completed and handed over to in the month of June 2021.
Thembalami Buhlalo, a mother of nine, stated, "As a family we were never going to be able to build a structure like this one you are seeing here today. So, as a family we are grateful for the kind of assistance that has been rendered to us," she said.
As humanitarian partners and government strive to save, and sustain lives and livelihoods, development partners like the ZRBF - Sizimele, continue to complement government's efforts by addressing the varied needs and, the root causes of vulnerability.