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We survived the worst: from vulnerability to resilience

When the floods came, the areas surrounding the dykes constructed with support from ActionAid were spared from the destruction where 800 houses were destroyed, 6000 people were displaced, and properties were lost, hundreds of hectares of crops were destroyed, bridges and roads were damaged and the Cholera disease affected 56 people.

 

Andrew Moleseni, aged 52, from Chipondeni village explains...

The sound of water sweeping down Thangadzi created panic as villagers began to pack their valuables and prepared to flee. The years of torment by water had taught us a lesson not to underrate the floods.

I was terrified as my wife and children stood by me hoping  to flee to safety. Then a surprising thing happened. The water passed by our village.

We could not believe it because this has never happened before. I went to my garden, it was spared.  I  went to the hospital it was intact. I went to the school, it had been spared. We rejoiced to the good news.  Our friends in the lower area suffered the impact of the flooding because the water broke where our dyke ended and was joined by a dyke by another organisation. That is where the water broke and and the other village has not been spared. their houses, crops, and roads have been destroyed.

 Our dyke had served us. We survived the worst flood in my life time.  Then I heard that all displaced people in the lower areas had sought refugee at Namiyala school because the drains had protected the school as well. It was bad because pupils could not learn at the school but lives was saved. Thanks to ActionAid. However we need to complete the dyke to reach all the neighbouring villages for them to be spared next time this happens.

 

In 2009 and 2010 Action Aid took up the challenge to work with the communities to address the threat of flooding through raising community awareness on Climate Change including   primary school learners focusing on disaster preparedness, adaptation and mitigation. It also undertook the support of community based climate adaptation initiatives aimed at improving and flood proofing school infrastructure. The project was funded by Irish Aid.

This led to the construction of dykes. The work involved a technical team and stakeholders in the community studying the course of the river and its history. They explored how it had changed its course due to flooding and siltation. The team comprising members of civil protection committee, Area Development Committee and the office of public works agreed that a dyke should be constructed on a 500metre length. The task was not easy it demanded a lot of manual work.

The community worked tirelessly for eight weeks digging sand and filling sacks until the dyke was completed. They planted grasses to strengthen it. The community also went ahead to dig drains around the schools namely Chikonje, Chikali and Muona to protect the infrastructure from water during flooding period. The drains would take water away from the schools  into water ways and back to the river.