Assisting Schools affected by Cyclone Idai

Friday 27 November 2020

In less than four months it will be two years after Cyclone Idai struck Zimbabwe. Although time has passed and the cyclone has gone, the damage and effects of the Cyclone is still evident at most schools in Manicaland and Masvingo province in Zimbabwe. Garanje Primary school in Bikita district is one such school.

On arrival at the school, one is greeted by the gaping holes on the roofs and wide cracks on the walls of classrooms, toilets and teachers’ houses; a constant reminder of that fateful week when disaster struck. As the rain season approaches, both students and teachers at Garanje primary are scared to use these structures, as the damaged infrastructure poses a high risk to the lives of learners and teachers at the school.

Garanje SDC chairperson showing a crack on the classroom block

On the 15th of March 2019, the school was hit by the devastating Cyclone Idai which destroyed school infrastructure, furniture, learning and teaching materials. A classroom block developed life threatening cracks and one teacher’s house and several toilets were reduced to nothing. Classroom furniture and books were all soaked in water. Dzingirai, Chairperson of Garanje School Development Committee explains the aftermath of the disaster at the school:

“One of the classroom blocks developed cracks and the plastering was peeled off. This happened Sunday evening on 15th of March last year when it rained heavily. The cracks were so huge, you could see what’s outside whilst standing inside the building. We managed to do minor repairs to the building.”

“Our grade 7 teacher’s house was also destroyed on the day. Fortunately, he wasn’t injured. He had to move in with the headmaster until parents constructed a six roomed house for him. Toilets, school furniture and books were also destroyed,” said Dzingirai.

The school and parents have been making efforts to repair infrastructure damaged by Cyclone Idai. Thanks to funding from Global Partnership for Education, Garanje School is one of the 141 schools affected by Cyclone Idai which will benefit from the schools rehabilitation programme by Save the Children and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

A two classroom block cited for rehabilitation will be destroyed up to window level and reconstructed using standard building material. Rehabilitation works will also include, adding a concrete ring beam, reroofing, reflooring, plastering, painting, fitting new windows, building a capped veranda and constructing wheelchair ramps to cater for pupils and teachers living with disability.

“We are happy and thankful that our school was picked for rehabilitation. The classroom block had become a death trap, it could collapse anytime with children inside. Parents have already started complementing the rehabilitation efforts. They have started moulding bricks, collecting pit sand and river sand for construction,” Douglas Dzvoore, Garanje School Headmaster said.

Under the schools rehabilitation programme, Garanje School together with the other 140 schools received learning and teaching materials from Save the Children. Grade 6 and 7 girls were given sanitary pads and teachers received food hampers. Maize meal has also been delivered to all schools for use in the school feeding programme, while building material deliveries are scheduled to start in the last week of November 2020.

The GPE funded programme is supporting schools in Bikita, Zaka, Buhera, Chipinge, Mutare and Chimanimani districts of Zimbabwe.