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displaced people living like animals in Harare
March 14, 2006
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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.
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.
shabbily constructed metal and asbestos structure is what Fungai
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.
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
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.
Bingura holds the liquid soap he has manufactured for selling
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
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.
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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