AS dark clouds build up in the distance promising imminent heavy rains, villagers in Mbire and Muzarabani districts in Mashonaland Central north-west of Harare are gripped with anxiety.
The dark clouds have become an obvious indicator of an imminent disaster as rains, which are a blessing to others, have become a curse for people living in the flood-prone districts.
This is a perennial problem shared by villagers who are currently smarting from yet another wave of disastrous floods that hit the districts as a result of Tropical Storm Ana recently.
The torrential rains induced by the tropical storm have left a trail of disaster including damage to roads, bridges, boreholes while several homes, clinics and schools were not spared from the catastrophe.
Speaking to the Zimbabwe Independent this week, villagers in Mbire District narrated the ordeal they suffer each season.
Maxwell Kafanja Mutyoka, a villager from Muguta Village, Mushumbi in Ward 9, narrated how the floods have left a trail of disaster after torrential rains hit the country.
🔴The torrential rains induced by the tropical storm have left a trail of disaster including damage to roads, bridges, boreholes while several homes, clinics and schools were not spared from the catastrophe.https://t.co/zKstllL0zd pic.twitter.com/rXPeHLwsMT
— Zimbabwe Independent (@Zimindependent) February 4, 2022
“Most huts were flooded and some of them collapsed and were completely destroyed.
Most of the villagers’ crops were also washed away. Some families have since abandoned their homes because of the danger of huts collapsing.
Our area is flood prone and we face the similar dangers each year but the situation has been worse this season,” he said.
Another villager Barbara Chiponda from Chikwama B village, Chirunya in Ward 7 of Mbire District echoed the same sentiments citing that strong winds preceded the torrential rains destroying houses, tearing off some roofs while others were completely destroyed.
“In our area, the bridge at Karai was completely destroyed, cutting villages from other parts of the district, including from main health institutions in the district at Chitsungo.
So all patients referred from clinics cannot be attended to at the hospital,” she said.
Chiponda added that Ward 7 has approximately 2 000 households with almost half of these families losing their homes, crops and food stocks after the rains.
“We have always had problems during the rainy season, but the situation is worse this season.
The villagers need agricultural inputs because they lost all their crops.
Provision of amenities like toilets and others remains critical,” she said.
“The passage of Ana presented with heavy rainfall, and strong winds causing rivers to overflow.
Flooding and landslides resulted in casualties and widespread damage over the entire northern area of Mozambique.
“Many public infrastructures were damaged including healthcare facilities and homes.
Interruption to basic services and healthcare deliveries affected the people,” the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said.
While no deaths have been recorded in Mbire district, reports from Muzarabani district indicate loss of lives and livestock.
Last Saturday, eight people, their cattle and scotch cart were swept away by flooded Mukumbura River after Ana.
In an interview, Mbire Rural District Council chief executive officer Cladious Majaya said the whole district was battling the ravages of Ana.
Majaya added that Mbire also confirmed the serious infrastructure damage caused by the rains.
“Water infrastructure was damaged and in some cases boreholes were contaminated by the floods.
The district is cut off in terms of electricity power supply after the infrastructure was damaged in the storms.
The cost of damage is running into millions of United States dollars and as a district, we hardly recover unless we receive external support,” he added.
Majaya said the district needed food and shelter for the affected families, agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilisers for replanting and sanitaryware and other non-food essential items adding that there was also an urgent need for aqua tabs and borehole pump spare parts as well as funds to repair sanitary facilities.
“An estimated 1 000 households urgently need food and shelter.
We are also aware that the figures are preliminary and could go up as we receive more information about those affected,” he said.
Majaya further noted that although flood waters had subsided as of Sunday this week, the district was not yet out of the woods as the area continued to receive torrential rains.
“More than 80% of farmers in the affected wards lost their entire crops and there is no hope of salvaging any harvests,” he added.
Mbire district is located 237km north of Harare in the Zambezi valley of Mashonaland Central and sits on the shorelines of the Zambezi River bordering Zambia and Mozambique.
The district has three more major rivers, Musengezi, Hunyani and Angwa which makes it prone to flash floods.
It has an approximate population of 95 000 people with most of the settlements along the major rivers while the people rely mostly on agriculture and sport hunting.