Zimbabwe asks for foreign aid after heavy flooding

An El Nino-induced drought last year scorched crops in the southern African country, leaving more than 4 million in need of food aid, but Zimbabweans are now having to contend with floods after receiving above-average rains.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Families wait near tents after they were left homeless following floods in this Friday, February 24, 2017 photo made available by UNICEF Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe says floods have killed 246 people and left 2,000 homeless since December.

Updated Mar 4, 2017

Floods in Zimbabwe have killed at least 246 people since December, state media reported on Friday, as the government launched an appeal for foreign aid.

The Herald newspaper said at least 128 people had been injured, 2,000 left homeless, 74 schools damaged, and 70 dams had burst their banks triggering severe flooding across the country that followed a prolonged drought.

"There is an inadequate supply of tents, foodstuffs and drugs for the affected people," Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told the paper.

"There is a need for blankets and clothing for the affected families and they are at risk of contracting pneumonia and acute respiratory infections."

He appealed for emergency funding from international donors, private companies and the public.

Among the worst affected areas were southwestern districts including Tsholotsho, where at least 859 people were living in a makeshift camp after heavy rains destroyed their homes.

The meteorological department has warned of further heavy rains, cautioning people against crossing flooded rivers and bridges.

The floods come as Zimbabwe was hoping to recover from a severe drought, which ravaged most of the southern African country and destroyed many food crops.

Critics blame the perennial shortages on President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms which saw the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks, most of whom lacked the means to farm.

Mugabe, 93, has blamed the poor yields on erratic rains due to climate change.

TRTWorld and agencies