Zimbabweans, for months have pleaded for rain. Now they’re dying from the downpour, which have washed away bridges and roads and cut off some communities, the government now seeks $100million in humanitarian aid internationally, to ease the burden the floods that have reportedly killed nearly 250 people and 2000 rendered homeless.
The state-owned Herald newspaper reported that the international humanitarian appeal launched will help the country’s government tackle the problems the flood has caused.
The Herald also reported that President Robert Mugabe – currently in Singapore for ‘scheduled medical review’ had declared the floods to be a national disaster.
“I am appealing to the development partners, private sector and general public inclusive of those in the diaspora to rally with the government to support relief programs.”
Just last year, a regional drought largely induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon killed livestock and forced people to forage for food in forests and seek drinking water from parched river beds in many parts of Zimbabwe.
Desperate for rainfall, some people revived a long-abandoned tradition, dating to pre-colonial times, of rain-making ceremonies.
In parts of Zimbabwe, traditional leaders and spirit mediums, with the support of the government, led ceremonies atop mountains and other sacred places to appeal to ancestral spirits for rain. Others who no longer believe in traditional customs held Christian prayers.
The floods mainly affected southern Zimbabwe, where the air force has transported some marooned villagers to safety. Some people are unable to reach clinics and schools. Dams have overflowed, raising concerns about communities living downstream.
Five bridges on major highways have been swept away nationwide, Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said.
“Our roads have deteriorated to the extent that some sections of the national road network have become impassable,” Zimbabwe’s Daily News newspaper quoted Gumbo as saying.
Roads in some urban areas were already littered with potholes, and the flooding has made it even harder to get around by car. In January, some mansions in the affluent Borrowdale suburb of the capital, Harare, were flooded, while a number of cars were swept from driveways and walls were destroyed by rains.
Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government is already struggling to meet routine commitments such as the payment of state workers’ salaries. Thousands of nurses in state hospitals went on strike this week over a lack of bonus payments, straining an already dire situation at the poorly resourced hospitals.
State hospital doctors have been on strike since Feb. 15, forcing the government to send in army and police doctors to care for patients.