A Zimbabwean woman is rebuilding her life after miraculously surviving floods by hanging onto a tree for more than six hours, with her two month old baby strapped on her back.

The floods are the result of torrential rains induced by cyclone Dineo which hit parts of the Southern African country two weeks ago.

After receiving above normal rains more than 200 Zimbabweans have died and thousands more have been displaced since rains began in December.

Families affected by recent torrential rains are picking up the pieces of their devastated lives. The village of Chivi, in Masvingo is one of many disaster areas.

The 38 year old Nyaradzo Makholiso says she watched helplessly as her house was swept away. She says a plum tree saved her family.

“The water was rising quickly and it was almost to my waist so I ran to my brother’s house. My sister in-law climbed up a tree and we handed her the children, my nephew helped me up the tree as well, then we helped my brother up the same tree. We were up that tree from around 11pm till 5am in the morning and it kept raining.”

We escaped through the fields but they were flooded

Her baby clung to her for six hours. She says she is so traumatised she has not returned to her homestead, now reduced to rubble.
Another family which lives in the area says they are now trying to rebuild their lives. “We escaped through the fields but they were flooded. We first got shelter at some homestead but the water almost flooded that homestead as well. We moved up the road again to higher ground to another homestead until it stopped raining. When we returned to our homestead all the housed had been destroyed.” Aid agencies have assisted with shelter and food but there are still no ablution facilities or clean drinking water, which may further cause a potential health hazard.
“The families lost their clothes, blankets furniture, and other valuable property including their identity documents including medical cards plus even the medication itself, pills they were all flooded. We have not assisted them along those lines, save for food and tents,” says Chivi District Administrator Hlabati Mafios. Meanwhile in Mwenezi south of Masvingo, roads and bridges have been damaged, leaving villagers cut off. Vice Chairperson of the District Council Master Makope says the much needed rainfall has had a bad impact on the poor. “We have been experiencing the dry season for the past two to three years but the sudden change of climate for the poor people is now terrible that most of them have been affected, generally the fields have been flooded, again starvation, we have been expecting a bumper harvest but because of heavy rains now we are now experiencing a loss in terms of harvest, so we are expecting another challenge in terms of food security.” At least 64 families have been affected in the Chivi District. In Tsholotsho District in the southern Matabeleland province families were air lifted to Sipepa transit camp. Overcrowding has been raised as a major concern as people continue to arrive.

– By Mbali Sibanyoni