International humanitarian community seeks $89 million to respond to devastating floods in four Southern African countries

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 11 Feb 2008
(Johannesburg/New York/Geneva, 11 February 2008): The international humanitarian community is seeking nearly $89 million to help the governments of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe respond to floods that have destroyed thousands of homes, devastated crops and left some 449,000 people in immediate need of humanitarian assistance. The funds sought will also be used to prepare for a possible deterioration of the situation since predictions of continued rains could lead to even worse flooding, putting another 805,000 people at risk.

'The governments have done an excellent job. And they urgently need the support of the international community to ensure that all those displaced by the floods receive the food, shelter, water, medicine and other basic necessities they require to survive,' said John Holmes, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. 'We are only halfway through the rainy season and with more heavy rain expected, we must be able to assist potentially hundreds of thousands more people,' he added.

In Mozambique, the hardest hit country, the international humanitarian community requires more than $35 million to respond to the needs of more than 680,000 people currently affected or at immediate risk of floods. In addition, about 90,000 hectares of crops have been swamped, destroying the livelihoods of many subsistence farming families. The funds will be used to support the relief effort being led by the Government of Mozambique by providing vital food, water and sanitation supplies, shelter, family kits, medicines and education materials.

In Malawi, international partners are seeking about $17 million as a result of heavy rains and subsequent floods that hit 15 of the country's 28 districts. Approximately 220,000 people are already affected or are at immediate risk. Already, more than 700 cholera cases have been reported and the situation will likely worsen in the coming weeks. The Government is requesting international assistance to bolster its own efforts to develop emergency preparedness, response and recovery measures.

Nearly $18.5 million is needed in Zambia to respond to the needs of 250, 000 people who have already been  affected or are at immediate risk. Floods have caused extensive damage to infrastructure and ruined large areas of crops, which could drastically reduce the 2008 harvest in many areas. The most critical interventions include the pre-positioning of food and supplies, including tents, water and sanitation items, and medical provisions.

International responders in Zimbabwe are seeking nearly $15.8 million for 94,000 people, including those who are already affected and those at immediate risk. The Government is leading the response to the floods with support from humanitarian partners, who have already distributed shelter items, food, water and sanitation supplies. With more rains expected, further support is needed to prepare for potentially serious flooding along the Save, the Zambezi and possibly the Limpopo Rivers.

Humanitarian needs in the region are likely to increase during the coming months, as national and regional meteorologists predict a good chance of continued heavy rain.

The flood-affected regions in the four countries have some of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. The displacements and losses caused by floods will therefore have deeper consequences on HIV-affected households by disrupting HIV services and by undermining the ability of families to cope with the disease.

'Despite the scale of these floods, the governments and the international humanitarian community have so far prevented this crisis from becoming a catastrophe,' said Mr. Holmes. 'Without additional funds, we might not be able to cope if the situation does get worse - and that would leave large numbers of people at greater risk,' he added.

For further information, please call: Christina Bennett, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 8059, mobile +1 917 435 8617; Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570; Michelle Thulkanam, OCHA-Southern Africa, +27 11 517 1635, mobile + 27 82 908 1437. OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

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