The Heat Is Online

Zimbabwe Floods Trigger Apocalyptic Fears

Is it the second end of the world?

By Andrew Mambondiyani, Manicapost  

Zimbabwe, Jan. 13, 2008

Each passing day brings anxiety to the people of Middle Sabi in Chipinge. Whether the sky is clear or not, chances of floods are still high.

And to talk of floods in the area sends chills down the spine of every person in the area who has witnessed how the latest floods wrecked the once tranquil and rich farming community of Chibuwe and Middle Sabi.


In less than one hour everything in the whole of Tongogara Refugee Camp had been turned aquatic as the mighty Save River burst its banks due to the incessant rainfall in the river's catchment area.


Was this a curse, some affected families continue to query?

 

The biblically inclined, however, summed it up as the signs of times. Some even said the end was near. But surely, the second end of the world would not be by floods again as was in Noah's time. But if it is not the end of the world, the destruction caused by the floods will remain in the minds of many for many years to come.


Even the Tongogara Refugee Camp administrator, a Mr. Mlambo  a man of sterner stuff  was reportedly struggling through the flooded roads to and from the camp. He did not want to lose even a single soul at the camp, witnesses to the destructive floods said.


Though Mr. Mlambo could not say anything to the Press about the harrowing experience for professional reasons, his bravery, however, won the hearts of many in the area. He is a real warrior some could be heard saying.


Two days after the harrowing experience from the floods, residents at Tongogara Refugee Camp were still shell-shocked and they had every reason to be shocked, as the floods were both mysterious and destructive.


Nearly 100 families were left homeless. The only solace was that no life was lost.
For the refugees, it was a double blow as they were still recuperating from the wounds of wars in their respective countries.


After the long journey from Rwanda and experiencing the warmth of the Zimbabwe environment, many refugees thought their troubles were over, but nature had its own plans. The floods were a big blow.


This reporter almost shed a tear when he came face-to-face with the effects of the floods on the camp.


One inmate was sorting his spoilt beans at another end one refugee was rummaging through his spoilt household property for his only five Bibles.


The bibles, which he hoped, would give him another reason for living.


The camp clinic was not spared either. The scarce drugs were destroyed raising fears of a catastrophe in the event of an outbreak of water-borne diseases.


However, some of the refugees were returning to the camp to retrieve their few belongings.


Few kilometres from the camp lies Farm 25 which was almost under water with up to 100 families having been affected.

 

 

About 500 households from Tongogara Refugee Camp, 200 households from Masimbe, 100 households from Farm 25, 50 households from Chibuwe and 60 households from Maronga, were displaced by the floods.


"We have so far received assistance from the Red Cross. We have received blankets, jerry cans, tablets (MMT and Paracetamol), pots, plates, cups and transport for relocation. Right now, we need more drugs and food," the Civil Protection Unit chairman for Chipinge, Mr Noel Mundeta said.


But elsewhere across the country, lives were lost as floods hit the Muzarabani area and some parts of neighbouring Zambia.


Some reports said the floods had so far claimed 21 lives and left several thousand homeless in Zambia.


More than 1,000 families, mainly in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland Central Province, have had homes and livestock washed away by the rains which began on December 3, 2007.


But is the world watching with folded hands when the floods are threatening to wipe out the whole world?


Not really.


At the World Conference Disaster Reduction in Japan two years ago, it emerged that more than 65 percent of the economic losses due to natural disasters and nearly 90 percent of people killed were due to disasters related to weather, climate and water.
Recent scientific studies also indicate that the number of extreme events and their intensity might also increase due to global climate change.


World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), through its major programmes and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) put specific emphasis on natural disaster prevention and mitigation.


A new major WMO cross-cutting programme on Natural Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has recently been established to respond more effectively to the natural disaster reduction challenge and ensure further integration and synergetic approach across programmes and interested organisations.


Japan Meteorological Agency will present examples of national and international contribution of the NMHSs in this field. Reliable information on weather and climate allows for improved decision-making, which has the potential to mitigate the impacts of disasters.


Early warning protects life and property, provided that it can reach the target communities in timely and suitable manner, combined with awareness programmes and risk evaluation, disaster prevention and other preparedness measures.


THORPEX is a relevant example of research activities being developed to accelerate improvements in the skill of one to 14 days forecast of high impact weather. The universal and equitable access to warnings and information results in reducing loss of life and property caused by disasters to a minimum.

 

The information society, fostering ICT development, E-environment and E-science strengthens NMHSs in producing and delivering information, warnings and comprehensive and effective services to their population in support to safety of lives and property and the general welfare and convenience of the people.