Zimbabwe Flood Relief

News and Press Release
Originally published
For Zimbabwe, the new millennium began with good rains and a promise for a bumper harvest, which might turn round the economic fortunes of the country. In February however, Zimbabwe, together with Swaziland, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa, was hit by torrential rain storms, followed by the deluge of Cyclone Eline. It resulted in severe flooding on a scale unknown in living memory. More rain is expected in the region, which has already suffered many deaths; where thousands of people are left homeless; and where millions of dollars were lost in economic damage.

As of March 1, 2000, the flood's death toll for the whole Zimbabwe had reached 70 people. Over 250 000 people are left homeless. Many more lost their crops, food stock, and livestock, and are in immediate need of food. People in the flood-affected arrears are now exposed to greater risks of diseases like malaria, cholera, and dysentery.

The Government of Zimbabwe, assisted by the UNDP, made a need assessment of the situation. Flood relief totaling at least US$22 million is urgently required to rescue people trapped by the floods, provide rescuers with food, water, shelter, and healthcare, and finally rehabilitate the infrastructure destroyed.

The Government and local relief agencies started to supply the vital requirements to the affected people. However, their capabilities are not enough. They are hampered by the fact that the floods left a huge destruction of infrastructure like roads, bridges, clinics, and schools. International relief of money and material is urgently needed.

Required Assistance The immediate requirements are food, clothes, blankets, shelter, medicines, and general healthcare. Long term funds are needed to restore the vital infrastructure destroyed, and to assist the displaced people to rebuild their homes and resume decent livelihoods.

Local Response

Local response has been impressive. President Mugabe and his Ministers toured the affected areas. Realising that many people are unreachable except by helicopter, four more helicopters were recalled from the war front in the Congo to attend to the draught relief effort. All public servants werecalled upon to donate one day's salary toward the flood relief.

The Government is supplying free grain, water, medicines, and other requirements to the affected areas. Efforts are underway to clear the ship wrecked in Beira Harbour, which prevents any oil from reaching the oil pipeline to Zimbabwe. Similarly, Beit Bridge is being repaired to allow oil to reach Zimbabwe from South Africa. Many roads and bridges are being repaired as war time operation.

The private sector's efforts have been no less vigorous and generous. Barclays Bank gave a total of Z$2 million; the United Nations, Z$4 million for coordinating, assessing, and compiling an appeals document; commercial farmers, Z$2 million in cash and kind; and Zimbabwe Financial Holdings, Z$5oo 000. Other organisations like Caritas, Zimbabwe Red Cross, Lutheran World Federation, Christian Care, and others are providing short term emergency assistance.

Appeal for International Assistance

Like in Mozambique, the flood damage in Zimbabwe is beyond the capacity of the Government and local charities alone to deal with. Accordingly, Zimbabwe appeals to the international community to extend a helping hand. An appeal was addressed to the Government of the United States of America, and they promised to respond favourably. This appeal is specifically directed to non-governmental relief agencies, church organisations, and the American people.

The assistance will include the supply of food, clean water (which entails drilling more boreholes), supplementary food for the people and livestock, food security programmes, and medical care. These programmes in support of the people's livelihoods will have to continue at least until the next cropping season, since all the current harvest was destroyed.

How to Help

Donations in cash and kind may be channeled to reach the flood victims through the Civil Protection Unit, or through the Red Cross, or any other charity of your choice

Cash donations through the Civil Protection Unit should be sent to:

Zimbabwe Flood Relief Fund
Account number 01412/106814/01
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ)
Union Ave,
Harare, Zimbabwe

From the United States and Canada, cash donations may soon be transmitted through CBZ's corresponding bank, Citibank.

Donations in kind may be sent to:

The International Red Cross
New York, NY

Inquiries may be directed to:

The Embassy of Zimbabwe
Mr. T. Makono
1608 New Hampshire Ave., NW
Washington, DC. 20009
Tel. (202) 332-7100
Fax (202) 265-7921
E-mail: zimemb@erols.com

Col. F. Mutisi
128 East 56th Street
New York, NY 10022
Tel. (212) 980-5084
Fax (212) 308-6705