Zimbabwe’s Dam Project Displaces Families

Human Rights
In October, 400 families (approximately 2,500 individuals) were forced out of their village and homes in Southeastern Zimbabwe in order to make room for a new dam. The Tokwe-Mukosi dam is being constructed by Sanlin, an Italian company, with funding from the Zimbabwean government.

The dam is intended to provide irrigation to the local area of Chibi where people have been vulnerable to famine and food insecurity as a result of little rainfall. The dam will also provide irrigation to the nearby city of Masvingo where water shortages have caused problems in recent years.

The construction of the dam began in the 1990s but was abruptly halted because of Zimbabwe’s economic hyperinflation. The construction resumed after the formation of the government of national unity in 2009.

The families that were displaced as a result of the construction were moved from Chibi to Nuanetsi Ranch, an area located in the Mwenezi district 100 kilometers away. Each household was given a four hectare plot of uncultivated land that is worth between $3000-$8000 as compensation.

Many families believe that this compensation is not enough to make up for the loss of land they have owned for generations. Richard Tarunvinga, 66, stated “[that was] my ancestral home and not even any amount of compensation will make me happy.”

The newly inhabited area does not have reliable access to water and the displaced families are forced to live in mud huts. The families are also busy clearing the trees from their land instead of planting maize, their staple crop, during prime planting season.  The new location is said to be a location unsuitable for anything except livestock farming. The relocation has also had a negative effect on children in these families are they are not going to school and unable to receive an education.

It is undetermined when the dam’s construction will be completed.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: All Africa, World Food Report