Helping families build their resilience in the aftermath of a disaster

News and Press Release
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By Sheila Chemjor, IFRC

Families in Morogoro’s Dakawa and Kilosa area, 270 kilometres northwest of Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam, are rebuilding their lives following flash floods that left a massive trail of destruction earlier in the year, affecting at least 10,000 people. It is the first time since the 1970s that they had experienced such heavy rainfall and as such were completely unprepared. Some houses were washed away leaving no trace of their existence.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) allocated 180,676 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to help the Tanzania Red Cross Society in assisting 2,000 people affected by the floods. With the help of the Red Cross, families have now constructed shelters at a temporary site allocated to them by the Government of Tanzania, as they wait to be settled permanently on safer grounds.

As part of the emergency operation, Tanzania Red Cross Society volunteers carried out hygiene promotion to prevent an outbreak of diseases, and provided water and sanitation facilities and shelter materials. They also offered psychosocial support.

With agriculture as their main source of livelihoods, the community was hard pressed as their farms were completely destroyed. Not wanting to wallow in pity, they started to plough the land around their settlements, planting maize, beans and indigenous vegetables to avoid relying on food aid. Others went back to their original homes to plant their crops on their farms while they continue to live in the settlement.

Adida, her husband and three children age between five and 18 years, were displaced from their home during the floods. In the temporary settlement she has a beautiful garden with pumpkins, indigenous vegetables, potatoes and maize. “I salvaged some of the crops from my farm and planted some seeds,” said Adida. “I will harvest the maize in a few months. In the meantime, we are enjoying fresh vegetable from our garden.”

Also picking up the pieces is Juliana Aloise, 33, and a mother of four. She runs the only grocery shop in the temporary settlement that sells local vegetables, soap and a few household items. “My relatives sent me money for my sustenance when disaster struck. I did not want to use all of it. I set aside some as capital to start my business. I ride my bicycle to the nearest market, which is 12 kilometres away, to purchase my stock,” she said. “This is the business I was doing before I was affected by the floods.”

Despite the losses incurred, there is hope that families like Adida’s and Juliana’s will rebuild their lives. This is a characteristic of a resilient community where affected families show a willingness to adjust to their status with available support and resources.

IFRC will work with National Society into a better way of supporting the most vulnerable communities, by integrating risk reduction and resilience strengthening approaches in order to protect and better the livelihood of the communities from natural disasters or other shocks.