Sugate Takawira and Kuda Ndima are cyclone Idai survivors. They live in donated temporary shelters in a compound that houses more than 60 families in the small rural town of Ngangu in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe. They have been struggling to rebuild their lives for months - with little help from the government - following the devastating cyclone that upended their lives in March 2019.

Sugate Takawira, a Cyclone Idai survivor sits in his kitchen at a temporary shelter housing over 60 families affected by the disaster in Ngangu, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/CJC.

Displaced individuals whose homes were torn down by the cyclone and others whose residences' integrity were compromised were moved to designated common areas,  i.e. community shelters, hotels and camps. A few people refused to budge. They set up makeshift structures close to their partially damaged homes.

"When Cyclone hit our land, we lost 2 children, recovered the body of only one, while the other remain missing. Our home was reduced to a pile of large stones", says Kuda Ndima.

Sugate Takawira feeds his family now by farming free range chickens at the temporary camp. Before Cyclone Idai, Sugate had over 100 free range chickens in his thriving coop. He also kept rabbits and farmed potatoes. The water swept most of that away. Now he is starting all over again.

Sugate Takwira cleans his chicken coop at a Cyclne Idai survivors' camp site in Ngangu. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/CJC

Sugate says that by expanding his chicken business and even buying some cows to increase his capital while still at the survivors' camp site, he is fighting the donor syndrome. He believes that the camp is no place for families. Through his businesses, he can generate enough money to rebuild his life elsewhere, in his home community.

“My 17 year old girl eloped from this same tent city in 2020 as she was no longer going to school. The Cyclone has caused many problems in our community. Many girls were orphaned and many went into early marriages in this tent village. Young girls should not have to live under such circumstances”, says  Ndima.

Kuda Ndima fetches water for the evening meal in the Ngangu shelter for survivors of Cyclone Idai. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/CJC

Life in Ngangu is not easy. It is not easy to get food, it is not easy to get an income and it is even harder to get potable water. Many people in the nearby towns still use unprotected wells. Where taps exist, the supply is inconsistent, and the taps a fair walking distance away from where people live.

Kuda washes dishes in preparation for the evening meal. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/CJC

According to a baseline assessment done by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in May 2021, a total of 9,233 families are still in need of permanent shelter across all affected districts, a decrease of 36 per cent compared to the previous Baseline assessment that was done in Oct 2020/Mar 2021 and which recorded more than 14,000 affected households requiring more suitable accommodation.

The demand for shelter increased during the rainy season and the sharp decrease thereafter could be attributed to shelter restoration by some of the affected people themselves.

A family chats by the fireside in Ngangu. While they wait for permanent accommodation, they reminisce about everything that Cyclone Idai stole from them. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/CJC