MASVINGO Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti has conceded that the 18 000 villagers displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam floods and housed at the Chingwizi holding camp in Nuanetsi Ranch are among the “most traumatised people” in the country. TATENDA CHITAGU OWN CORRESPONDENT
Speaking at a handover ceremony of a water treatment and purification plant at the camp, Bhasikiti said their trauma could have been worse had non-governmental organisations (NGOs) not chipped in to help the government deal with the unfolding humanitarian disaster.
“These are the most traumatised people in the country. They have endured very difficult circumstances,” he said. “However, the situation was made better by the help from the NGOs and other development partners.”
NGOs initially reacted overwhelmingly to the disaster donating food stuffs, clothing, tents, blankets and water, among other materials.
However, four months down the line, there seems to be fatigue among the humanitarian agencies as the government dithers on decongesting the camp due to non-availability of funds to compensate the villagers.
The government needs $9 million to compensate the villagers. Bhasikiti said in the long run, the villagers would lead better lives when they start benefiting from the dam water for irrigation purposes.
“We assure the villagers of a return to the good old life,” he said.
“For now, the results cannot be seen, but in the long run they will benefit from irrigation as sugarcane out-growers.”
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But the villagers would have to wait a little longer to benefit as construction of the dam stalled last week due to lack of funds.