via NGOs pull out of Chingwizi – DailyNews Live 22 July 2014 Godfrey Mtimba
MASVINGO – A health disaster is looming at Chingwizi Transit Camp after non-governmental organisations offering sanitation assistance pulled out, a senior government official has warned.
Felix Chikovo, the Masvingo provincial administrator, told a provincial development council meeting here that the situation was dire as the holding camp was left with less than a month’s supply of water treatment chemicals.
About 20 000 victims of Tokwe-Mukorsi flood basin disaster are sheltered here.
“There is need for urgent intervention at the camp as NGOs who were providing assistance in sanitation, particularly in water treatment, have pulled out,” Chikovo said.
“We are pleading with victims to move out of the camp before a sanitation disaster explodes.”
Several NGOs have pulled out of the camp. They have been providing toilets and clean water.
The reasons for the pull-out remain unclear, although there are claims their budgets were exhausted.
The major blow came when Oxfam, an international NGO that was supplying water treatment chemicals, withdrew.
“We are having a serious challenge with regards to water purification as the organisation that was assisting left,” Chikovo said.
“Oxfam had offered its services up to August but they just left.”
The camp has since been gripped by serious fears of an imminent outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, as villagers have resorted to using unsafe water from unprotected sources.
Government is blaming villagers for refusing to move out of the camp where people live under cramped conditions.
The villagers are refusing to relocate to one hectare plots offered by the government saying they want compensation first for their homes which were destroyed during the floods.
Government is failing to raise $9 million needed to compensate the victims.
Mike Mudyanembwa, the Tokwe- Mukorsi victims spokesperson, said villagers had vowed to stay put at the camp until government compensated them.
“We are facing a very dangerous situation here following the pulling out of NGOs who were assisting our health and sanitation,” he said.
“The situation is so bad that children will soon be affected by cholera and other diseases since we no longer have clean water to drink, but we will not leave this place until we
get our compensation first.
“We are aware of the impending danger and government wants to use this to its advantage — to force us out without compensating us.”
Besides the compensation issue, the villagers accuse government of lying to them by promising four hectares and later shifting goal posts and offering them one hectare each.
The camp is already facing a food crisis as government is struggling to provide enough rations for the victims.
Government requires about $277 000 per month to feed the 3 000 families that need over 223 000 tonnes of grain.