Runyararo: A town in the making

14 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Runyararo: A town in the making VICE-PRESIDENT Kembo Mohadi officially commissions Runyararo Health Centre in Chimanimani District yesterday.— Picture: Tinai Nyadzayo


Ray Bande
Senior Reporter


ROME was not built in a day, they say!


No wonder 75-year-old British Monarch King Charles III is on the comeback trail, and gradually easing back into public life after a three-month sabbatical to focus on his treatment and recuperation following his diagnosis with cancer.


King Charles is predicted to finish building the final quadrant of his Poundbury model town in 2028 — with the area set to become one of the most sought after in the country.


Poundbury is on Duchy of Cornwall land near Dorset in Dorchester, and was King Charles’ vision of a Utopian idyll, where private and affordable housing mix with boutique shops, places of work and services like schools and medical centres within walking distance.


The royal started working on the project in the late 1980s, and since then, it has grown to boast around 2 320 homes, 4 600 residents and 240 businesses employing 2 400 people.


Thousands of kilometres away from Duchy of Cornwall, and in the same vein, is a town in its infancy at a place now known as Runyararo Village near Nhedziwa Business Centre in Chimanimani District of Manicaland Province in Zimbabwe.


The new urban settlement came about following the devastating Cyclone Idai that struck Zimbabwe in March 2019, affecting 270 000 people.


The storm and subsequent flooding and landslides left 340 people dead and many others missing.


Agriculture, schools and infrastructure all suffered heavy impacts, while many people lost their homes.


Chimanimani and Chipinge districts suffered the most brunt.


It is only five years after the devastating Cyclone Idai, and the internally displaced persons (IDPs) left homeless in the aftermath of the tropical storm, have taken refuge of this new urban settlement as part of the disaster recovery initiative by Government.


While the Duchy of Cornwall project is a private estate established by Edward III in 1337 to provide an income for the heir to the throne — Runyararo Village is a Government initiated project meant to give decent accommodation as well as civic amenities for the folks who survived a calamity that will remain etched in the minds and hearts of many for decades to come.


To date, a total of 120 houses have been constructed, with beneficiaries already on site.


Efforts to have social amenities such as hospitals and schools on site are ongoing.


At least 260 families are expected to be moved to new homes in Chayamiti Village, under Chief Mutambara, from Ngangu and Rusitu after Government delivered on its promise to help restore their livelihoods with the construction of houses, schools, clinics and irrigation facilities.


Runyararo Polyclinic: A game changer


Government constructed Runyararo Polyclinic — a modern health facility designed to cater for the needs of those who were displaced by Cyclone Idai — which has turned out to be a game changer in the delivery of healthcare services for all as outlined in the National Development Strategy (NDS1).


Its construction started in 2022, and Vice President Kembo Mohadi was expected to officially commission the new 22-bed health facility yesterday (Thursday) following its completion and installation of state-of-the art medical equipment.


The ministries of Health and Child Care and Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion funded its construction as part of the initiative to bring healthcare services closer to the people, particularly those in rural areas.


This was through a US$210 million facility that saw NMS Infrastructure Ltd constructing 30 22-bed health centres and five 60-bed district hospitals across Zimbabwe.


The polyclinic, which is situated in Runyararo Village, Ward Six in Chimanimani District, will employ 40 health workers, including qualified doctors.


It will operate independently from any hospital, as both general and specialist examinations and treatments are offered under one roof.


Manicaland Provincial Medical Director, Dr Munyaradzi Mukuzunga is on record saying, not only will the facility offers healthcare services to relocated families, but will also serve as a referral centre to Chayamiti and Bumba clinics.


“The bigger vision is to have that area developed into a bigger settlement with irrigation and other services, so definitely there is need to provide health services for that big population.


“In an ordinary clinic, we do not have theatre facilities and admission which will be offered by this polyclinic. Runyararo will therefore offer more services to people affected by Cyclone Idai and those in surrounding communities of Bumba and Chayamiti, thus increasing the population that will be served by the facility. We will also have a resident doctor and offer caesarean sections, so the expectation is that even other feeder clinics will also be able to refer patients to that facility,” he said.


Acting Manicaland Provincial Director (Local Government Services and Administration), Mr John Misi said the project is a significant step towards the healing and recovery of the affected communities.


Vision 2030 seeks to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle income economy by 2030

Vision 2030 seeks to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle income economy by 2030


“We are pleased to announce that Government, through the Civil Protection Unit and Ministry of Health and Child Care, has taken a significant step towards providing justice and relief for the victims of the devastating cyclone.


“This is part of our ongoing commitment to support the survivors and their families in their recovery and healing process. We hope this will help them find closure and peace after the traumatic event that changed their lives forever,” said Mr Misi.


Families that have already moved to the new location expressed gratitude to Government for honouring its pledge to restore their lives.


Mrs Annette Muresherwa said although they lost a lot in the cyclone disaster, they were slowly rebuilding their lives.


“We were in Chimanimani when we were affected by Cyclone Idai, and we relocated to this area. We are looking forward to settling in this area, and we are thankful for what Government has done for us. We are particularly grateful for the clinic that was built for us as it will bring health services closer to us,” she said.


Another villager, Ms Rumbidzai Dube, who was employed at the construction site said she was grateful for the opportunity to be part of the process of bringing development to the community.


Runyararo: The name


Prior to the construction of houses for the purposes of accommodating survivors of Cyclone Idai, the place was formerly known as West End Farm.


At a function to monitor progress in the construction of houses at Runyararo Village, the then Local Government and Public Works Minister, Dr July Moyo said: “We feel the name Runyararo resonates well with the new set-up here where we expect to have a place of peace and consolation after what we went through during Cyclone Idai.”


Cabinet in 2019 approved new names of roads, places and Government buildings in Harare, Bulawayo and other towns across the country, as a deliberate effort to foster unity, while reflecting on the country’s history and identity.


Apart from ensuring relevance like in the case of Runyararo, the name changes are mainly aimed at honouring the country’s national heroes, as well as nationalists from the region.


Indeed, the name Runyararo is a true reflection of the peace of mind that the survivors of Cyclone Idai will forever need as long as they trudge the face of the Mother Earth.


Runyararo: The vision


With modern houses already constructed and resources for trendy amenities in the area being mobilised, the vision is simply to have a new urban setting at Runyararo Village.


Survivors of the devastative March 2019 Cyclone Idai moved in to take occupation of the new houses constructed by Government at Runyararo following the decommissioning of the temporary shelter structures that were erected at the height of the unforgettable calamity.


The fulfillment by Government of the pledge to have survivors finally move away from makeshift tents to new structures at Runyararo Village came after many development partners chipped in at the height of the disaster, focusing only on other low cost humanitarian needs such as food and education.


Perhaps, only with the help of International Organisation of Migrants (IOM), which supplied more reliable prefabricated structures for temporary accommodation, Government single handedly shouldered the financial burden to construct the houses for the survivors of the tropical storm.


In its disaster recovery plan after Cyclone Idai struck, Government, through line ministries led by the Local Government and Public Works, took it upon itself to build houses for survivors who were left without a roof over their heads by the calamitous tropical storm.


In line with the “Building Back Better” Policy adopted by Government in its disaster recovery efforts after the March 2019 tropical cyclone, four-roomed modern and decent houses were built at Runyararo Village.


Unlike neighbhouring Mozambique which received considerable support from the international community, the Government of Zimbabwe was left to forge ahead with the construction of houses for its Cyclone Idai victims after several private partners that had pledged to assist failed to live up to their word.


On its way from the sea, Cyclone Idai struck the central region of Mozambique, and left devastation in its wake, with over 13 599 houses destroyed and more than 4 800 badly damaged.


Since then, UN-Habitat scaled-up its activities to support the Government of Mozambique in reconstruction activities, and in January 2020, the project: “Promoting Resilient Recovery of Housing and Infrastructures in Communities affected by Cyclones in Mozambique” was launched.


The project, implemented with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was aimed at supporting the establishment of models and technical standards for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of resilient housing and infrastructures in urban affected areas.


But for the Government of Zimbabwe, commendably, it was a lone effort, albeit maintaining similar, if not much, much better resilient housing standards.


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