Katesh disaster: Govt mobilises building materials

TANZANIA: AFTER receiving a significant response in donations of food and other domestic items for the victims of the Katesh mudslide, the government is now appealing for a focus on building materials to help rebuild homes for the survivors.

In a statement issued on Sunday by Chief Government Spokesperson Mr Mobhare Matinyi, the government expressed gratitude to Tanzanians for their humanity, love, patriotism, and dedication, which have helped provide enough food and other basic needs for the victims to continue with their lives. Mr Matinyi (pictured) stated that, so far, food donations and basic needs worth 2.6bn/- have been received.

Additionally, there is 5.2 billion Tanzanian shillings in cash, including 2.5 billion brought by President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan from COP28, and another 2.7 billion donated by public institutions through the Office of the Treasury Registrar (OTR) and various philanthropists.

Mr Matinyi, who also serves as the Director of Information Services (MAELEZO), revealed that the government has begun distributing enough food for each household to consume for 30 days, along with other essential needs, to the victims in the three camps while assisting them in reuniting with their relatives.

He stated that three camps have now been closed as all 690 victims from 140 households have returned to their homes and their relatives. “Since last week, the victims have been receiving daily donations because the donations are abundant,” he said.

“On average, every household receives enough food to last for six months or more. For certain products like sugar, citizens are given enough to last for more than two years, in accordance with nutritional requirements,” he added.

Furthermore, he explained that the distribution of donations is being coordinated by the Department of Disasters under the Prime Minister’s Office, in collaboration with Manyara regional authorities, Hanang District authorities, their security committees and experts from the Ministry for Community Development, Gender, Women, and Special Groups.

“The allocation of these donations targeted 1,292 victims who have been proven to have lost their homes, either due to damage or being buried in the mud,” he said.

He also noted that the donations provided include maize, wheat, rice, maize flour, wheat flour, beans, cooking oil, milk, nutritional powder for children, eggs, soap, mattresses, blankets, sheets, mats, buckets, gas cooking stoves and cylinders, pots, clothes, shoes and many others. Mr Matinyi also revealed that the number of deaths from the disaster stood at 89 since December 11, and the body of one female child has not yet been identified.

He stated that four injured individuals are still receiving treatment at Manyara Regional Referral Hospital in Babati and one has been taken to Benjamin Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma.

The government has covered the costs of medical treatment, funerals and offered condolences to the bereaved. In a related development, the victims of Hanang mudflows expressed their gratitude to the government for continuing to provide them with donations that exceeded their expectations.

A resident of Katesh, Thomas Gabriel, whose house was covered in mud and lost some of his belongings, including food, stated that the government had previously provided him with enough supplies to last for one month. However, due to the abundance of donations, the government called them again to receive more aid.

He revealed that the donations he received included drinking water, maize flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil, milk, eggs, wheat flour, clothes, blankets, sheets, and mats. “I am very grateful to the government and all the stakeholders for supporting us to such a large extent because today (yesterday) I have been called again to receive more aid,” Mr Thomas said.

He received various items, including 300 kilogrammes of sugar, 125 kilogrammes of maize flour, 300 kilogrammes of maize, eight blankets, 20 litres of cooking oil, eight mats, eight mattresses, laundry detergent, eggs, nutritional powder for babies, and a five-kilogramme gas stove.

Another victim, Innocent Desdery from Gendabi village, stated that he received donations that exceeded his expectations. After the initial distribution, they were informed to go to centres to receive more aid.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) agencies, in close partnership with the Tanzanian government, have mobilised support for the victims of the Katesh mudslide in Hanang District. In an official statement to the media over the weekend, the UN disclosed its ongoing efforts to curb the effects of the mudslide on the victims in Hanang, including supporting long-term recovery efforts.

“The World Food Programme (WFP) has played a crucial role by rapidly mobilising food supplies to meet the urgent needs of the affected communities. This swift response aims to alleviate hunger and ensure the basic needs of the affected populations are met,” the UN statement said.

The UN stated that preventing disease outbreaks is a central focus of the joint efforts. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are leading initiatives to restore clean water supplies, promote health and hygiene practices and combat the threat of communicable diseases in the aftermath of the floods,” the statement added.

The WHO has also deployed cholera rapid testing kits and essential health supplies in the displacement site to mitigate the risk of disease transmission, whilst UNICEF has provided relief items for water, sanitation and hygiene services such as hygiene kits, water tanks, purification tablets and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“In addition to these efforts, UNICEF has supplied various non-food items including mattresses, blankets, sleeping bags, children’s clothes, footwear, buckets and soap. They have also supported Risk Communication and Community Engagement, as well as Mental Health and Psychosocial support activities in the affected areas,” the statement added.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has also distributed dignity kits, which contain essential items to support women and girls in the affected areas, including khangas, menstrual pads, bath soap, multiple pairs of underwear, washing soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, all packed inside 20 – liter buckets.

It added that the Tanzanian government, with the support of the UN, is conducting search, rescue, and recovery operations.

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