Rufiji floods: Voices of resilience amidst devastation

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What you need to know:

  • Amid this catastrophe, it is the voices of the victims themselves that provide the most compelling narrative of the situation.

Dar es Salaam. As the relentless rains continue to pummel Rufiji and Kibiti Districts in the Coast Region of Tanzania, the stories emerging from the flood-ravaged communities paint an emotional picture of resilience amidst adversity.

Amid this catastrophe, it is the voices of the victims themselves that provide the most compelling narrative of the situation.

A mother of three and a resident of Muhoro village in Rufiji District, Ms Amina Mwanaidi, narrates to The Citizen that the floods have brought unimaginable anguish.

"I never thought I would see the day when my home would be swallowed by water," she recounts in a telephone interview.

"All I could think of was the safety of my children. We had to flee to a nearby school with nothing but the clothes on our backs, yet the water followed us."

With her voice filled with emotion, Ms Mwanaidi described the harrowing experience of wading through waist-deep water, clutching her children tightly to her chest, "The fear was paralysing," she said. "But I had to be strong for my little ones."

Across the districts, fathers like Hassan Juma grapple with the grim reality of rebuilding their shattered lives.

"I have worked tirelessly to provide for my family," Mr Hassan laments during a WhatsApp video interview, his weather-beaten face reflecting days of toil.

"But now, everything I've managed to gather has been washed away by the floodwaters."

As he surveys the ruins of his once-thriving farm, Mr Hassan's voice grows heavy with sorrow. "All I wanted was to give my children a better future," he says.

"But now, that dream lies buried beneath the mud. Hopefully, the government will do something."

Despite the overwhelming devastation, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Thanks to the swift action of the government, several displaced families have found refuge in temporary shelters.

"We are grateful for the government's intervention," says Ms Fatuma Rashidi, a resident of Mfisini village, located in the north eastern part of Rufiji district, whose voice reflects a sense of relief. “Without their help, we would have been lost.”

For Ms Rashid and countless others like her, the government’s efforts and other humanitarian groups to provide essential services such as shelter, food, and healthcare have been a lifeline in their darkest hour.

"They may not be able to undo the damage that has been done," she acknowledges. "But they have given hope to the citizens."

This happened when the government had already dispatched a team of six ministers led by the Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Parliament, and Coordination), Ms Jenister Mhagama, to assess the situation in the affected areas and provide government directives.

In a statement issued by the government's spokesperson on April 11, 2024, Mr Mobhare Matinyi, after the visit, said that Ms Mhagama assured the citizens that the government was with them and would provide all necessary assistance during this period.

According to the statement, the government has already provided 40 tonnes of maize, 150 tonnes of maize flour, and 50 tonnes of beans, as well as 5,000 liters of cooking oil en route, and is preparing more food and medicine.

Meanwhile, an update on the ongoing disasters shows that 33 people have been killed in Morogoro and the Coast regions.

Mr Matinyi told a press conference in Dar es Salaam on Friday, April 12, 2024, that floods have killed 28 people in the Morogoro Region and five others in Kibiti, Rufiji, and Kisarawe districts in the Coast Region.

He said in an assessment conducted in the said regions, the catastrophe has extensively devastated maize, rice, sesame, banana, cassava, and sorghum farms.

Mr Matinyi said the disaster has caused 28 deaths in Morogoro Region, destroyed 1,035 houses, and left 6,874 others surrounded by water.

“A total of 34,970 hectares of different crops have been affected, along with 1,466 livestock. Different infrastructure networks, including the Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara), culverts, and road networks connecting the eight councils, have been severely affected,” he said.

“Roads, houses, bridges, electricity poles, schools, as well as Muhoro Health Centre located in Rufiji District, have been submerged in water,” said the CGS.

“Twelve out of 13 wards in Rufiji District, five out of 13 wards in Kibiti District, and one ward in Kisarawe have been severely affected. A total of 1,014 people have been rescued in Rufiji District alone,” he added.