Villagers Starve As Donated Food Lies Idle In Chimanimani

Villagers in Tiya, one of the Cyclone Idai affected areas say they have only received food aid once, leaving hundreds of them facing hunger despite food donations being taken to the cyclone-ravaged province.

When 263Chat visited Tiya village, businessman and politician Joseph Makamba Busha had donated 50 of the 400 bags of mealie meal but the villagers who spoke to this publication said they are being neglected and left to starve.

Tiya village headman, SaTiya, who said he was grateful for the gesture shown by Busha, could not hide his disappointment as he felt that his people were being neglected in their time of need.

“We are hungry and suffering, we are told that people are donating but that food is not getting to us, we have only received aid once and this is the second time. Our people really need this food and we appeal for more,” he said.

There has been a lot of concern over the distribution of food aid and relief items as allegations of manipulation have surfaced.

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An official from the FreeZim Congress party hands over mealie meal to Cyclone Idai victims in Tiya Village, Chimanimani (Lovejoy Mutongwiza/263Chat)

Another village, Tineyi Sarupinda, said they see truckloads of food aid heading to Chimanimani but they are surprised as to why the aid has only reached them once.

“From where my house is, I see heavy-duty vehicles every day taking food aid to Chimanimani town centre. To my surprise, since the cyclone hit us a month ago, we have only been given assistance once, we are not sure where the food is going,” he said.

Lilian Muzimba, who now stays at Chimanimani Hotel, a stone throw away from one of the warehouses stocked up with donated food items, says food remains their biggest need.

“Without food, we will all starve to death and all the survival efforts will be wasted. Although we have been lucky enough to get food assistance we still yearn for more food, we need more to sustain ourselves and the more than 70 people being housed here,” she appealed.

When 263Chat visited one of the warehouses in the town centre, the crew witnessed a fully stocked warehouse with food aid while hundreds of villagers are starving.

However, Chimanimani East Legislator says the biggest challenge in distributing food aid has been the dilapidated road infrastructure which was destroyed during the cyclone.

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Most roads remain impassible thereby hampering the distribution of food aid to those in need (Lovejoy Mutongwiza/263Chat)

“Our roads were impassable but now they are being fixed for temporary access. We are now working on distributing food to all the citizens in Chimanimani.

“We still have challenges in areas where we don’t have access… we have certain areas which are not accessible yet but today have had people from the Civil Protection Unity who have come to discuss with us our challenges,” Sacco said.

According to the Zimbabwe United Nations Association (ZUNA) Cyclone Idai Assessment report, homes of at least 4,000  families were destroyed or are currently uninhabitable.

“This is expected to increase as assessments continue. In the seven districts affected by the Cyclone Ida- Chipinge, Chimanimani, Buhera, Bikita, Mutare, Gutu, and Chiredzi multi-sectoral support will be required to speed recovery. The livelihoods of over 270,000 people across these districts have been affected. Those in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts are worst hit,” the report says.