Jesuits in Zimbabwe support victims of collapsed dam

The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has launched an appeal for thousands of people who have lost their homes and land after heavy rains caused a partial collapse of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam in the south west of the country. Describing "sub-human conditions on the ground at Chingwizi camp", local priest Fr Peter Chimombe said people in the camp look like "refugees in a war situation". The Jesuits have joined other Church groups and non-governmental organisations in helping the recovery operations.

"The incessant rains that Masvingo region received this season saw dam water levels at Tokwe Mukosi rising beyond the expectations of the contractors," wrote Fr Chimombe in the Jesuit newsletter In Touch. "Many homes were submerged under water and many people in the Tokwe catchment area had to be air lifted by Zimbabwean and Namibian air force helicopters. A lot of property was lost, including crops and livestock. Makeshift schools have been constructed and these are manned by teachers whose former schools were also submerged beneath the merciless waters of Tokwe Mukosi which upon completion is set to be the largest inland dam, second to Kariba." 

Fr Chimombe describes the situation as still dire. "The major problem now facing the people is a psychological one. While the flood victims await their relocation to places like Gunikuni and Mwenezi, all they do is nothing but to sit and wait. They complain about everything from the relocation process which is taking longer than anticipated to neglect by Government. Preaching to such people does little to calm their anger which is reaching boiling point as they are even angry with God for having allowed the disaster to befall them. Safe drinking water is a problem, not to mention of toilet facilities and there are fears of an outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera.