Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has approved the construction of 500 modern houses for victims of Cyclone Idai in rural parts of Chimanimani by Econet Wireless in a bid to modernise and transform rural households in line with Vision 2030.
Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said the houses to be constructed by Econet would follow a model which will be used in the development of all rural areas. Dr Gwaradzimba made the remarks at a meeting to mark the end of a two-day visit by a delegation of Ambassadors of different nations, led by the United Nations resident coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli.
The UN delegation was in Manicaland to assess the work by UN agencies and humanitarian partners in support of the national response to Cyclone Idai and observe first-hand challenges being faced by the affected communities.
Econet has secured 2 010 hectares of land from Government where it will construct the 500 houses, drill boreholes and install solar grids to power the homesteads.
The houses are expected to benefit the most vulnerable in the community.
“We have accepted the offer by Econet to 500 homes and agreed on the areas where both Government and the communities feel they will be safe. We have also agreed on a model which we are going to adopt after some experts have done some spatial planning,” said Dr Gwaradzimba.
“We are guided by the Government’s call to move towards being a middle income economy driven by the concept of modernisation, urbanisation and industrialisation.”
She called on development partners willing to assist in the construction of homes to adopt the same model.
“You would have noticed the way our people were settled — they were scattered all over. Even the quality of houses was not up to standard, and they were easily destroyed by the cyclone. We are reinventing the wheel and build modern ones. We want to upgrade the standard of the houses in rural communities. Our focus is to improve the rural areas where the people are poor and disadvantaged. We need standardised housing for the poor,” said Dr Gwaradzimba.
The minister said there was need to also establish irrigation infrastructure in the new communities to ensure sustainable livelihoods for villagers.
“In these new communities, we will promote rural industry. It will be self-contained and meeting all the basic requirements of a modern society in the rural areas,” she said.
Dr Gwaradzimba said the resettlement of people in the urban areas will start once technical experts certify the suitability of the selected areas for human settlement.
Mr Parajuli commended Government efforts in coordinating humanitarian assistance to the affected families.
He further called for a more coordinated approach by development partners operating in the province.
“Going forward, we need to work on long term recovery plans. We need to mobilise more support from donors. The $75 million from the World Bank is a major boost and will go a long way to improve the situation. Recovery can take long, so planning in advance is needed,” he said.