Bringing Hope And Security To Refugees in Zimbabwe

More than 7,500 refugees are now living  in Zimbabwe’s Tongogara refugee camp in Chipinge. Without adequate and timely assistance, these refugees will not be able to sustain themselves. A partnership between the World Food Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped them persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.

“The most important thing is that we're safe, we have shelter, the kids are going to school and we do not go to bed hungry,” says Catherine Hatangimana, a refugee who fled violence in Rwanda.

A mother of six children, she now lives in Tongogara refugee camp in south-eastern Zimbabwe. Located in Chipinge, a semi-arid area, the camp is supported by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and The World Food Programme (WFP).

“The most important thing is that we are safe, we have shelter, the kids are going to school and we do not go to bed hungry,”
 

Conflict and unrest in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region — in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea— have displaced large numbers of  people and more than 7,500 refugees are now living  in Zimbabwe’s Tongogara refugee camp in Chipinge. Without adequate and timely assistance, these refugees cannot sustain themselves. Under Zimbabwean law, refugees are obliged to stay in the camp and only a few are permitted to work outside its boundaries.

Catherine is a member of the piggery project at the camp

WFP took over food distributions in the camp in January 2015, subsequently changing to cash-based transfers so refugees could make their own purchase decisions about food. Seventy percent of the money they receive goes on buying food - rice, fish and potatoes are the most popular commodities.

UNHCR is focused on providing shelter, water and sanitation, and educational supplies. The refugee agency is also committed to expanding and diversifying income-generating projects to increase the resilience of those living in the camp.

Catherine has established herself as a smallholder farmer to supplement the assistance she receives from WFP and UNHCR.

“I miss home, but Zimbabwe has become our new home,” she says. “The only possessions I carried from Rwanda are my farming skills and I’m glad I can use them here, they help me to earn an income which supplements the money we get from WFP.”

Cathrine in her potato field

“I miss home, but Zimbabwe has become our new home,” she says. “The only possessions I carried from Rwanda are my farming skills and I’m glad I can use them here, they help me to earn an income which supplements the money we get from WFP.”

WFP, UNHCR  and Goal International have provided some 400 refugee households with farming inputs on small plots of land provided by the Government of Zimbabwe. Each household has 500 square metres under irrigation. They grow bananas, sugar beans, and potatoes. In total, the camp has 25 hectares of irrigated land. Refugees are assisted every year with vegetable seed packs so they can grow an assortment of produce. There are also poultry and piggery projects in the camp.

Catherine is glad that her children are being educated and well looked after in Zimbabwe.

More than 3,000 Mozambican refugees have arrived in Zimbabwe since May 2016, adding to the already considerable numbers of refugees in the country.