Starting again after the floods in Zimbabwe

Published: 10 August 2015 9:37 CET

By Sumiko May, British Red Cross

There was nothing Enesia Charunda could do to save her home and crops. The 63-year-old has known flooding, but never as bad as that which destroyed her Zimbabwe home earlier this year. Enesia abandoned her house as the flood waters closed in. She managed to get her family – frail husband and three grandchildren – to the safety of higher ground, but her home was destroyed.

Heavy seasonal rainfall across southern Africa resulted in widespread flooding in January 2015. Around 135,000 people were affected across Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. When the flooding hit communities in Muzarabane District, the Zimbabwe Red Cross was on hand to help those affected, including Enesia.

“I was happy when the Red Cross arrived,” she says. “They gave me mealie-meal [a staple food in southern Africa], cooking oil, beans, buckets, pots and pans, a water purification kit and a mosquito net.  If the Red Cross hadn’t arrived, I would have had to beg. There was no other option.”

The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) supported the flood response in Zimbabwe. The DREF is an important mechanism for responding to disasters, particularly smaller-scale disasters that do not attract international media and public interest. 2,500 people were supported with relief items during the Zimbabwe response because the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society had immediate access to emergency financial support under DREF.

Enesia is building a new home away from the flood plains.

“I am trying to create a new home for my family away from the flood-prone area,” says Enesia, who is the sole carer of her husband and grandchildren. “Prior to the floods, I grew cotton, but the heavy rains waterlogged the field. Even though it is too late in the season to grow more crops, I have planted maize just in case. Planting the maize has given me something to do and hope for. I cannot be hopeful if all I am doing is just sitting here. I need something to pray for. I’m now praying that the maize will grow.”

The major donors and partners of the DREF include the Red Cross Societies and governments of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA. The Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Medtronic, Zurich and Coca Cola Foundations and other corporate and private donors also support the Fund.