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Caritas Zimbabwe Coordinator Highlights Effects of, Intervention in Tropical Storm Ana

Women fetching water through sand abstraction on drying Nyautande riverbed. Credit: Caritas Zimbabwe

Tropical Storm Ana left a trail of destruction and disrupted human life in multiple districts in Zimbabwe, the Coordinator of Caritas in the Southern African nation has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Marius Zibgwi highlighted efforts that have been undertaken by Caritas Zimbabwe to address the life-threatening effects of the Tropical Storm that reportedly reached the country hours after it had “made land fall on Mozambique on 24 January.”

“More than 13 districts in the Eastern parts of the country have so far been identified as affected,” Mr. Zibgwi who coordinates the humanitarian arm of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) said during the Monday, February 14 interview. 

He explained, “Roads networks and bridges connecting to essential services such as hospitals and major towns have been destroyed. Hundreds have been displaced, and are seeking shelter in schools, churches and public places.”

The Caritas official made reference to an initial stakeholder study saying, “Information coming from the preliminary Diocesan and Local civil protection department assessments in affected areas points to food aid, shelter, wash facilities and early recovery livelihoods support.''

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In a February 10 report by the United Nations (UN) Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the passage of Tropical Storm Ana in Zimbabwe “caused destruction and damage in at least six provinces, with Manicaland Province hardest hit.”

“At least 3,000 people have been affected by heavy rains and flooding, where schools, bridges and roads were damaged,” the OCHA report indicates.

The report further indicates that the assessment conducted late January “identified 271 households in 11 of the 12 districts who had been displaced suffering losses in shelter, WASH, livelihoods, and food security (crops). Other consequential impacts observed include trauma, increase in protection risks and injuries.”

In the February 14 interview with ACI Africa, the Coordinator of Caritas Zimbabwe highlighted the intervention by the Catholic Bishops’ entity saying, “response will be implemented in Chinhoyi Diocese in Mbire district of Mashonaland West Province and in the Archdiocese of Harare in Mudzi district of Mashonaland Central province as these are the Diocesan areas that have been affected most by Tropical storm Ana.”

Mr. Zibgwi expressed concern regarding the plight of vulnerable people amid deteriorating political and economic situation in the Southern African nation amid natural disasters that seem to outpace and over-stretch people’s coping capacities.

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“Most of the households are struggling to adapt and cope with the effects of the depression, which has come to communities already struggling to cope with drought and COVID-19; so this was a terrible tragedy” he told ACI Africa. 

The Caritas official also said that during the last five years, the Catholic Bishops’ entity has initiated and realized three Caritas Internationalis emergency appeals and other lean season assistance projects to support the humanitarian responses, including food distributions and cash transfer systems.

Mr. Zibgwi further said, “In support of the government effort, Caritas Zimbabwe has coordinated a humanitarian response project to promote preparedness, prevention and mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in five Dioceses, where more than 30,000 people benefitted.”