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project displaces hundreds of families in Zimbabwe
people in southeastern Zimbabwe's drought-prone Masvingo Province
have had to leave their ancestral homes and villages in exchange
for plots of undeveloped land lacking any infrastructure, in order
to make way for the construction of a dam.
dam is being built by an Italian company, Sanlin, with funding from
the Zimbabwean government, to provide irrigation to the local communal
area of Chibi, which is vulnerable to recurrent food insecurity
due to the area’s low rainfall. The dam will also supply water
to the city of Masvingo, where severe water shortages have been
experienced in recent years.
began in the 1990s but stopped a decade later when Zimbabwe's economy
experienced hyperinflation, and only resumed after the formation
of the Government
of National Unity in 2009. If successfully completed, Tokwe-Mukosi
is set to become the largest inland dam in the country, with a capacity
of 1.8 billion cubic meters and a flood area covering more than
choice but to vacate”
In October 2013,
about 400 families (equivalent to about 2,500 individuals) were
moved from their village in Chibi district to Nuanetsi Ranch in
Mwenezi district, some 100km away, where each household was given
a four-hectare plot of uncultivated land and between US$3,000 and
$8,000 as compensation for their previous property. Many are complaining
that the money is not enough to compensate for the loss of their
homes and livelihoods, and that the area lacks schools, shops, and
They also told
IRIN that their relocation was not voluntary. "I had no choice
but to vacate because the government wanted us out of the dam site,"
said village head Richard Taruvinga, 66. "[That was] my ancestral
home and not even any amount of compensation will make me happy."
pole and dagga (mud) huts are currently the only form of shelter,
and there are not enough boreholes to provide all the new residents
with sufficient water. With the onset of the rainy season, it is
time to plant the staple maize crop, but the villagers are still
busy clearing the land of trees and bushes with axes and hoes.
really painful that the government had to dump us to such a place
before they even set up any housing structures for us,” said
Marlyn Mathambo, 44, a widow who takes care of her four children
as well as three grandsons.
that they awarded us is not adequate to construct good houses as
what my family had built in Chibi. This relocation exercise was
poorly planned and I can see hunger looming in the coming year."
Scores of families
told IRIN that their children had had to drop out of school as a
result of the relocation, and they had left behind employment and
were unsure how they would survive. Others lamented the government's
failure to provide them with transport for their livestock. "I
was earning a living by guarding cars at a nearby shopping centre
and don't know how I will survive here," said Takura Moyo,
48, a father of six.
to leave behind my cattle with my relatives in another village since
I couldn't get transport to ferry them here. I don't know how I
will bring them here," he added.
Nuanetsi Ranch is located in a region that receives low and erratic
rainfall and is considered unsuitable for anything but livestock
farming. Unlike Chibi, the area's remoteness offers few alternatives
to earn a living other than by farming.
director and founder of Tokwe-Mukosi Rehabilitation and Resettlement
Trust (TMRRT), which represents families affected by the dam and
advocates their rights, said the relocation exercise had been poorly
implemented, with the government failing to construct promised infrastructure
such as schools, clinics, cattle dip-tanks and shops, before resettling
He told IRIN
that about 150 children were missing out on schooling as a result
of the relocations and a number of them were unable to write their
final examinations in November.
government did to the people is just unfair and inhumane because
we poor villagers were just dumped at a farm that has no basic facilities,"
said Wamambo, who was also resettled. "Life will never be the
same again for the villagers, and they will not benefit from the
dam since they are some 100km away from the project." He added
that TMRRT was mobilizing resources such as tents and medicine to
assist the villagers.
to relieve food insecurity
the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, said he was unaware
of any complaints about the relocation exercise. "I can safely
say that the relocation exercise is going on very well, and the
government played its part and the villagers were compensated for
their properties," he told IRIN.
Administrator Felix Chikovo pointed out that “the successful
completion of the dam will result in the province having adequate
food security and water supplies.”
project will go a long way in alleviating the food crisis that has
bedevilled the whole province," he told IRIN.
In an October
2013 report focusing on Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme (WFP)
notes that Masvingo is one of three provinces where food insecurity
is at crisis level. It also notes that Zimbabwe “has limited
fiscal and economic capacity to buffer against the underperforming
agricultural production and weather-related shocks” and predicts
that the recent economic slowdown will further reduce government
is trying to meet a November deadline to complete the dam project,
but a senior official was recently quoted in a local provincial
weekly paper as saying that the government was battling to raise
enough money to complete its resettlement programme. According to
TMRRT, a further 1,200 people are expected to be moved to Nuanetsi
Ranch by the end of the year.
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