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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles

  • Internally displaced people living like animals in Harare
    Taurai Maduna,
    March 14, 2006

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    Fungai Katsande hold her baby Nyasha who suffers from Marasmus
    Fungai Katsande holds her baby Nyasha who suffers from Marasmus

    Life for some Zimbabweans can only be described as hell on earth. As the world celebrated International Women's Day, 33-year-old Fungai Katsande finds herself worse off than ever. Waking up everyday to face the challenges of life makes her want to break down in tears. "My husband is sick, my child is sick, I am sick and I do not know who is going to help me", she says quietly.

    Doctors have told Fungai that her baby Nyasha is suffering from Marasmus, a serious condition caused by Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 49% of the 10.4 million deaths occurring in children younger than 5 years in developing countries are related to PEM.

    The word Marasmus doesn't mean a thing to Fungai. All she knows is that her baby needs food to eat. Little Nyasha has been sick for two years and the chances of the baby getting food anytime soon are next to zero.

    Fungai is one of the thousands of people that have been internally displaced by the Zimbabwean government's clean up operation called Murambatsvina. Ordinary people have renamed the clean up a Tsunami, because of its speed and the ferocity of the destruction of homes.

    This shabbily constructed metal and asbestos structure is what Fungai calls home
    This shabbily constructed metal and asbestos structure is what Fungai calls home

    It is now 10 months since the government razed people's houses all the while telling them that they will build better houses for them under a housing scheme called Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, which means Operation Live Well.

    What Fungai now calls home is a shabbily constructed metal scrap and asbestos structure, which is less than 2 meters in height, length and width. Her structure looks unlikely to weather the smallest storm. Her mattress is rotten because of the heavy rains during the sustained period of wet weather. She cannot even afford to buy a plastic sheet to cover her "house". Fungai's husband is not working because he has a broken leg and therefore he can't do anything to fend for his wife and sick child. listen to audio file

    The scrap metal houses are one of the many different structures located in an area adjacent to Glen Norah C along Mukuvisi River. More than 200 people are believed to be staying in this area, living destitute lives. There is no running water and the bush is used as a toilet.

    Bigboy Bingura holds the liquid soap he has manufatured for selling
    Bigboy Bingura holds the liquid soap he has manufactured for selling

    Bigboy Bingura is one of the residents in this squatter camp. He said he used to live in Waterfalls but when the Tsunami came, his house was demolished and now he cannot afford to find a decent place to stay. Mr Bingura makes a living out of making and selling liquid soap. He said the area has more than 50 wells where he gets the water from to make his soap. listen to audio file

    Residents from the area say that the water from unprotected wells is dirty but that they have no alternative. "The same water we use for bathing is the same water we use for drinking", said a dejected resident.

    Celiwe Hove from Mberengwa told me she used to sell vegetables in the home industries before they were demolished. She now sells firewood to eke out a living. Celiwe says she is forced to live like an animal in the bush.

    According to the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), there have been cholera outbreaks in the area, which affected nearly 50 people. CHRA states that the situation remains desperate. CHRA also said the Zimbabwean government had rejected an independent report by Action Aid in liaison with the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), and the Zimbabwe Peace Project which concluded that about 850 000 people had been left traumatised by the clean up exercise.

    As for Fungai, she hopes to go to Social Welfare to get some food assistance. She is not sure if she will get the food but says she will continue praying with her friends at the Mountain of Hope Church.

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