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Impact of demolitions greater than government's new plan
HARARE - Although
Zimbabweans are yet to tally the cost of the government's controversial
cleanup campaign, there are already expectations that the financial
losses will be significant.
A two-month demolition campaign targeting "illegal structures" -
mostly informal homes and markets in urban areas - has left around
700,000 people without shelter, while the UN estimates that the
forced evictions have affected up to 2.4 million people to varying
A joint report released on Friday by the Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA) and Action Aid, an international development
NGO, said although it was difficult to quantify the damage caused
by the operation in monetary terms, a recent survey indicated major
losses across a broad front, ranging from shelter to schooling.
Interviews were conducted among 81,955 residents over two days in
26 high-density suburbs of the capital, Harare, that were affected
by the operation.
The report noted that 76 percent of respondents cited the loss of
shelter and income as a direct consequence of the government's eviction
campaign, while disruption in schooling had caused attendance to
drop by 22 percent among children whose parents were affected.
Families hosting orphans expressed very little hope of their charges
continuing their education in the near future, due to lack of income.
Nearly 60 percent of 14,137 households sampled had become food insecure,
further exacerbating the plight of the most vulnerable.
The report argued that greater detail on the impact of the operation
was needed for relief assistance to be effective.
"Lack of information is affecting response programme planning, implementation
and inability to ascertain the effectiveness of relief efforts,"
the report observed. There was concern that current assistance was
biased towards those with access to relief assistance in holding
camps or sheltering in churches, leaving the most vulnerable members
of the affected population to fend for themselves.
"The bulk of those affected by this operation are invisible and
have had to resort to various coping mechanisms. Those without shelter
have had to find support from relatives who are already living in
congested accommodation. Many of those who lost their livelihoods
depend on well-wishers for cash or other entitlements, since most
don't have any money at all to buy food," David Mwaniki, humanitarian
programme manager for Action Aid in Zimbabwe, told IRIN.
A number of families linked deterioration of their health to the
forced evictions, but "in-depth surveillance" was necessary to determine
the impact of the upheavals on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment
"The preventative process has been disrupted, especially since informal
traders were a primary source for condoms and other important anti-AIDs
awareness messages. The consequences of this action, including the
disruption of the ART [antiretroviral therapy] programme are likely
to be felt in the future," Mwaniki noted.
He stressed that although the joint survey had produced an overview
of the current challenges, sector-specific research was necessary
if the humanitarian community was to provide tangible assistance
to those needing it. He also called for further interrogation of
a government plan to accommodate people affected by the cleanup.
At the end of June the government announced the end of Operation
Murambatsvina ('Drive Out Filth') and the launch of the Zim $3 trillion
(US $300 million) Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle ('Stay well').
Mwaniki commented: "It is important that humanitarian actors ask
some hard questions about whether the proposed plan will actually
be adequate to address all the needs of those affected."
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