Zimbabwe has started evacuating 2,200 families whose homes have been submerged in floods in the catchment area of a major dam under construction.
President Robert Mugabe has also declared the area around the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam in Masvingo a state of disaster amid reports that the floods could affect 60,000 families downstream.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing unusually high rainfall for the past month resulting in floods in low lying areas.
The Meteorological Services Department has predicted more heavy rains in most parts of the country this week.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said water levels at Tokwe-Mukorsi dam had risen rapidly this past week threatening thousands of people in the basin.
“On February 4, the water level was five metres from overflowing thus extending the scope and extent of the emergency. Heavy incessant rains are set to continue in the catchment.
“Given the magnitude of the threat of extensive flooding, the President has declared a state of disaster in regard to the basin of Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, and areas downstream as far as the Triangle area,” he said.
DAM COULD BURST
Dr Chombo said the floods threatened villagers downstream and those living along the tributaries of the Tokwe River.
“They are required to immediately move at least five kilometres from the river bank and seek higher ground,” he said. “Those in the river basin must continue to make their way to designated pick up points in their areas for easy evacuation.”
Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, with a flood area of 9,600 hectares, is 60 percent complete and there have been fears the dam wall could give in to the high water pressure.
Several other parts of the country have been hit by floods and the government agency responsible for emergencies has been hamstrung by lack of resources to evacuate the affected families on time and provide shelter.