(Photo Credit: The Zimbabwe Mail)
This season, Zimbabwe has experienced excessive amounts of rain unlike preceding years, that have unfortunately led to floods, devastating the country. The Minister of Local Government, Saviour Kasukuwere, said in a statement earlier this month that 246 people have been killed by the floods with about 2000 homes destroyed in the country, particularly but not limited to the Southern parts of the country. A national state of disaster has thus been declared and appeals for $100 Million US Dollars to assist the disaster victims have gone out.
The floods have been caused by a combination of factors chief of which are the El Nino phenomenon as well as the Cyclone Dineo, which became a tropical depression by the time it hit Zimbabwe. The El nino and La Nina are basically phenomenon occurring in the Southern Pacific. With El Nino, and area of high temperatures and there low pressure develops just South of the Equator in response to weak trade winds. This results in heating up of the atmosphere, raising condensation and rain. La Nina is the opposite where cold temperature of the sea and air over it in response to strong trade winds and the subsequent low temperature dense high pressure air sinks, resulting in drought and minimal rain fall. This happens over the South Pacific but in Zimbabwe, the effects are the opposite. That is to say El Nino, which affected the country in the 2015/2016 gave drought while the La nina phenomena is what is bringing the unusually high rainfall with places like Tsholotsho, Bulawayo, among others recording a number of days with over 100mm of rainfall.
The dams and rivers burst their banks early in the year throughout the country, with the Marimba River a prime example that displaced 30 families after it burst its banks. Dams are either over flowing or almost at capacity, Upper Ncema, Mtshabezi and Insiza Mayfair, Chivero are all full with a national average of 71.5% reports the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA). Of the 36 major dams they track 22 are on or above 100% capacity. On February 18, Upper Ncema became a mini tourist attraction with people coming the see the overflowing dam that had not spilled in 23 years since 1994.
The situation in Zimbabwe has also been compounded by the Cyclone Dineo that came from the Indian Ocean, though Mozambique but by the time it reached Zimbabwe had been downgraded to a tropical depression. Cyclones are established by much the same recipe as El Nino that is hot rising air only for a cyclone the air circles around a vortex. Fortunately, when a cyclone hits the ground, without the warm sea surface to drive it often significantly loses its potency but that does not mean in it no longer dangerous. On February 17th, Matopos recorded 100mm of rain in 24hours while Tsholotsho had 72 with passage of Dineo. The cyclone induced floods also hit Bulima, Mangwe, Nkati and Matobo, NewsDay Zimbabwe reports.
Rainfall is set to continue until the end of March, according to the Metereological Department, which endangers even more people, as rivers and dams continue to overflow with an unusually large amount of rain.
Coordinator – CYNESA Zimbabwe.