LIVING conditions are continuing to worsen at Arda Transau resettlement facility — where people who were forcibly moved from the Chiadzwa diamond fields were relocated — with communities failing to access water, while wallowing in poverty, a report by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has revealed.
After the discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa, Manicaland province, many families were moved off their ancestral land of Marange communal lands and resettled at Arda Transau between 2009 and 2011.
The government declared the diamond fields protected areas under the Protected Places and Areas Act (PPAA) to pave way for the exploitation of the gems. While promises were made to improve the livelihoods of the resettled families, most of the promises are yet to be fulfilled.
For instance, each family was to occupy a three-bedroomed electrified house with clean, treated piped water from taps situated at each house. However, a lack of access to social amenities like water have seen living conditions resembling a concentration camp, according to CNRG.
“School-going children were to benefit from the provision of school fees, uniforms, footwear, and books. Schools were to get furniture from the companies and teachers’ houses were to be built near the school. Fast forward to 2023, Arda Transau resembles a concentration camp with shocking levels of poverty and an apparent humanitarian crisis unfolding,” the report reads.
“One of the major challenges facing the Arda Transau community is access to water. The taps dried up sometime in early 2022. The community has now resorted to fetching water at an unprotected well on the outskirts of the settlement.
“The water slowly springs from the ground, requiring at least 20-30minutes for one to fill a bucket. In the evening long queues form at the well where residents, mostly women and children, spend hours await their turn to fetch water for domestic chores,” read the CNRG report. People in the area have been getting water from unprotected sources, raising fears of waterborne diseases.
“The tiny well is less than five metres from a swamp that has become the source of water for laundry for the community,” the report reads in part.
“CNRG witnessed women washing clothes about five metres from the well where others were gathered to fetch water for domestic consumption. Livestock also drink from the swamp. The community is in danger of drinking contaminated water as laundry water can easily contaminate the drinking water.
“Similarly, animal diseases can easily be transmitted to humans due to the closeness of the swamp to the well.”
CNRG raised concern over the deteriorating housing within the resettlement facility, which it said is now degenerating into a humanitarian crisis.
“Another major humanitarian challenge unfolding at Arda Transau is that of fast-depreciating shelter. The houses, especially those built by Anjin Investments, are cracking. Massive cracks on the floor and walls were witnessed by CNRG. In some of the houses, there is an imminent danger of the walls collapsing on people.
“However, such tragedies are completely avoidable if Anjin Investments and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) embark on a house rehabilitation programme. This should not be for propaganda purposes but with real intent to avert tragedies.
“Many children brought to Arda Transau have grown and started their own families and yet there is no land for them. These young couples are forced to continue living with their parents. The land reform programme ought to cater for these families, given that they were made landless and homeless by the government. Zimbabwe has several multiple farm owners, of which the majority of the farms lie idle since acquisition,” read the report by CNRG.
CNRG said Arda Transau residents have limited livelihood options, which has plunged many into immense poverty.
“The situation at Arda Transau is compounded by the complete absence of livelihood options. There are no employment opportunities. All they got is a shelter which is now disintegrating. As the population at Arda Transau continues to grow without corresponding social services and employment opportunities, the risk of crime looms large.
“We reiterate that Anjin Investments and ZCDC executives must schedule regular meetings with the Arda Transau community to listen to the community and take genuine action to address their grievances. Ignoring the plight of the displaced community has a huge impact on the image and value of Marange diamonds,” CNRG said.