GOVERNMENT is racing against time to relocate Cyclone Idai survivors into more decent accommodation before the fast approaching rains expected in the next two months.
The development comes at a time when the Cyclone Idai victims have been dwelling in tents in camps at Nyamatanda, Arboretum and Garikayi under deplorable conditions since mid-2019.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to complete the first batch of houses for the cyclone survivors, which have been under construction for the past two and half years at West End Farm.
“We are actually working to make sure that we move the Cyclone Idai survivors before the start of the forthcoming rains,” said Manicaland principal administrative officer Tatenda Sithole.
Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent indicates that the government is targeting to construct 224 houses for the same number of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Currently, 105 houses are at varying stages of constructions with 80 units at roof level.
The number of beneficiaries has drastically gone down from approximately 1 500 families who were initially camped in the tents with the majority of the victims melting back into the communities as they could not continue to wait for accommodation that was taking long to come.
Government is on record indicating that it will only allocate houses to survivors who are still residing in the camps.
This has raised concerns over the government’s commitment and sincerity towards the plight of the victims of the flash floods.
The survivors had to endure two rain seasons with another looming as the government appeared to be moving at a snail pace to fulfil its obligations to guarantee the right to shelter for the victims.
“The conditions here are inhumane. Many people have left this place (Garikayi camp). To think that our government has allowed us to live in tents with our children for the past two and half years enduring the rains and the winter seasons makes us think twice,” said a survivor encamped at Garikayi who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.
As few as 90 dwellers of the government-listed 224 were still in camps as of last week as many continue to abandon the dehumanising tents to either rent or stay with relatives.
Sithole appealed for patience as the government ensures that the relocation site meets expected basic standards for occupation.
“There is still need to put up ablution facilities at the relocation site where the houses are being constructed as well as a school, which is now under construction. So they will have to go into transitional houses first before being transferred to the permanent houses,” she said.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is setting up the transitional houses.
The 224 housing units are being set up at West End Farm while 250 units are earmarked for Chimanimani communal area and an additional 200 units in Chipinge to bring the total to 674 transitional houses.
“I would say there have been a number of challenges to get to where we are. But what I can say is there has been considerable progress from where we started to get where we are today,” said Sithole.
She added that while the government acknowledges the need to relocate other survivors still dwelling in dangerous places, priority is currently given to those displaced and living in tents.