EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE TO EARTHQUAKE AFFECTED FAMILIES IN KAGERA

Case Story 1: It is Difficult for a Man to not be Able to Fend for his Family

We had all sat around the fire having a late lunch when the tremour began. Nothing to worry about, I thought, but then it started to shake violently. The next thing I knew, my house had caved in with my wife and children in it. My first instinct was to try find and get them out.” Tibaikwenda narrates.

I was not sure of a place that was safe to go at that time, because as far as I could tell, the damage was widespread. Houses were coming down around me and screams and commotion rendered the entire village. We were lucky to be alive, as I found out later the earthquake had caused so much devastation. I now had different problems to worry about. Where was I going to take my wife and six children and how would we survive? I was shaken and worried.”

This was the late afternoon of 10 September 2016. Over 100,000 residents of Kagera region, Tanzania, were taken aback by an earthquake that resulted in complete or partial destruction of houses and led to losses of property worth millions.

While some families had the ability to rent a house in town and/or rebuild their houses, majority of the affected had no capacity to rebuild their houses. Some opted to seek refuge from friends and relatives who had not been severely affected; others prepared makeshift tents next to their destroyed houses. Another group placed plastic sheets on their already destroyed houses, if only to provide a shed from the scorching sun and chill of night.

Gaspery John Tibaikwenda is a casual labourer. His wife sells groceries in the nearby town of Bukoba. For a long time, Tibaikwenda and his family lived in a small two roomed grass-thatched house in their quarter acre farm in Bukoba rural, a District within Kagera region, until the fateful day when their shelter caved in, leaving only the grass-thatched roof protecting them from injuries. They have since been living in open air, with the little propery they salvaged from the ruins.

With generous funding from CERF, IOM and the Tanzania Red Cross Society are providing temporary shelter to 1,250 most vulnerable families and distributing NFI kits to 1,200 households. This provides protection for the affected families and helps to avert physical and psychological harm.

Visiting Tibaikwenda at his new temporary shelter in his quarter acre farm, he could not hide his relief, especially noting the night long heavy rains that pounded the area the day before. Kagera region gets the long rainy season at the end of February and Tibaikwenda is delighted that his family is shielded from the cold.

Thank you for your support. This shelter keeps us warm and a lot safer and that is enough for me.” He said.

Image: 
 Tibaikwenda former grass-thatched house, destroyed by the earthquake in Bukoba, Kagera region.
One of the totally destroyed houses in Bukoba, Kagera region.
IOM and its implementing partner, the Tanzanian Red Cross Society, clear debris from a house destroyed by the Kagera earthquake, in Bukoba.
Tibaikwenda's new temporary shelter.