Hundreds of millions needed as Zim picks up the pieces after Cyclone Idai

03 April 2019 - 20:53 By JAMES THOMPSON
A man searches for missing family members with his dog on March 18 in Ngangu township in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, after the area was ravaged by Cyclone Idai.
A man searches for missing family members with his dog on March 18 in Ngangu township in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, after the area was ravaged by Cyclone Idai.
Image: Zinyange AUNTONY / AFP

At least $33m (about R466m) is required to recover infrastructure and material loss resulting from the devastation of Cyclone Idai in Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani area.

The Reboot Fund - a crowd-sourcing project spearheaded by leading business entities in Zimbabwe - says this figure is a conservative estimate of what is needed.

“The damage done is more than what is accounted for. The extent is dire and the need overwhelming, but what is impossible for one can be made possible when many rise to the call,” said the organisation in a statement.

Aid organisations have been on the ground providing relief, while the country's security forces have been tasked with recovering dead bodies.

On Tuesday, local government minister July Moyo told journalists after a cabinet meeting that they had been briefed by the military that some bodies had washed over the border to Mozambique and had been buried there by locals at three different locations.

“Last week we were at 189 [victims]. We had a number of people who were on our missing-persons list.

"Our defence forces, who at Vhumba had crossed into Mozambique, were able to confirm with villagers ... that seven people were buried. Another 15 were also buried at another place and yet another 60 were buried 40km down in Dombe district of Mozambique,” said Moyo.

The official number of missing people currently stands at 268, but with more dead bodies being found and burials reported, that tally is being reduced, said the minister.

The US government has provided nearly $10m in humanitarian assistance to help people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.

The US embassy has added $2.5m to the emergency needs of Chimanimani. This contribution is being provided through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Food for Peace (FFP).

“USAID will work through the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide immediate food assistance to approximately 133,000 individuals affected by the cyclone in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts. The contribution includes more than 2,000 metric tons of US in-kind sorghum, vegetable oil and fortified cereals that were prepositioned from USAID’s warehouse in Durban, South Africa,” said the embassy in a statement.

People in the affected areas are still battling to come to terms with the disaster. “Now when it rains or [there's] any slight wind, we panic a lot because we have never experienced anything of this nature," said local resident Stanley Muteke.

Some are calling for the victims' burial sites to be fenced in order to make them shrines that can be visited in future in honour of the departed.

Damage breakdown:

  • more than 250 lives lost;
  • 21,940 people displaced;
  • 175 people injured and needing healthcare;
  • more than 200 people are missing;
  • 50,000 households affected;
  • 2,103 houses completely destroyed, while 384 are partially damaged;
  • 44 business enterprises destroyed;
  • 48 schools demolished;
  • 1,993 latrines destroyed, raising fears of a possible cholera outbreak;
  • 95% of the road network destroyed and 10 bridges demolished;
  • 1,362 cattle, 49 goats, 561 sheep and 12,413 poultry perished;
  • 101 boreholes and water sources destroyed; and
  • more than 20,000 hectares of planted agricultural products destroyed.

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