Chingwizi, Zimbabwe – The Tokwe-Mukorsi dam project was meant to be the solution to the irrigation and electricity problems facing communities in southeastern Zimbabwe.
However, the heaviest rainfall experienced in Masvingo province in more than 40 years resulted in heavy flooding in recent months, culminating in the partial collapse of the dam. Thousands of farmers and their families had to flee their homes, leaving their crops and livestock behind at the mercy of the rising waters. The area was declared a state of disaster in February.
More than 20,000 displaced people have now been moved by the Zimbabwean government to the Chingwizi camp on the Naunetsi Ranch several hundred kilometres away. The government has indicated that land in Naunetsi will be allocated to the families affected by the flooding, but almost two months later people are still awaiting compensation.
The inhabitants of the camp were once fully self-sustaining, implementing both commercial and subsistence farming. Now, however, they are fully dependent on aid for their basic needs.
Samuel Marebe, a 43-year-old farmer from Nungirai village in the Chivi district, survived the flooding and now lives in the camp with his five children.
“We were attacked by the water,” says Marebe. “My family managed to leave before our entire home and farm went under water. Other people became trapped by the water and had to be rescued by helicopter.
“Now we are here at Chingwizi camp, which is 178km from our home. Conditions here are difficult. With the overcrowding we are worried about the health risks to our children, and they are also missing out on their schooling. We hope the government allocates us land very soon because now we are living like refugees in our own country.”