Tens of thousands affected by continued flooding in Mozambique as UNICEF ramps up humanitarian aid
Maputo 25 January 2013. An estimated 84,000 people—the majority projected to be children—have been affected throughout Mozambique by flooding and inundation caused by intense rains since 12 January. In Gaza Province alone, the hard-hit districts of Chokwe and Guija around the Limpopo basin have an estimated 65,000 persons affected, but this is likely to rise above 100,000 in the coming hours as water levels in the nearby coastal city of Xai-Xai continue to rise. A total of 36 persons have died, 26 in Gaza alone.
UNICEF has deployed rapid assessment teams on the ground in the most affected areas. All of UNICEF’s staff members are involved in responding to the life-saving needs of affected children and women and the first field coordination personnel are joining hands with local authorities. UNICEF’s emergency response builds on existing activities and partnerships with the Government, other UN agencies, and international and local NGOs.
Children’s and women’s access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities is the most pressing concern given the flood’s impact on infrastructure. UNICEF has dispatched 16 water bladders to Gaza and will be supporting water trucking services benefiting an initial 15,000 people. 3000 bars of soap and other basic sanitation and hygiene items have also been dispatched.
UNICEF is engaged with UN and other partners to ramp up access to shelter and essential health and nutritional services. A hundred tarpaulin sheets for sheltering families have been dispatched, as well as 1100 family kits for child-headed and other vulnerable families, containing basic household and kitchen items. Limited access to nutrition poses additional threats to children, especially when coupled with diarrhoeal diseases, measles and malaria. UNICEF is distributing high-nutrition biscuits (BP5) for 25,000 people, complementing partner food delivery to displaced families. An initial dispatch of 5000 family bed nets has been made. Three tents to support health and medical services have been delivered.
UNICEF is on the ground, working with the government’s protection, information, and communication services to enforce children’s rights and get life-saving information and messages to families. Community and local radio stations have been provided with key messages for broadcast, linked to health, hygiene, protection, and related emergency actions. Police and partners are collaborating to expedite reunification of children separated from their families and to mitigate the risks of abuse and violence against children in insecure environments Information, education, and communication materials have been dispatched for distribution in resettlement areas and use by frontline workers.
There is a great deal more to do and the next few days and weeks will be the most crucial. Hand-in-hand with our partners and with the ongoing generosity of our donors, UNICEF has the best chance to save lives, meet immediate needs, and help children and their families recover as the flood waters subside. UN agencies and partners are presently collecting and analysing information to quickly finalize a funding request to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the most urgent life-saving interventions. Initial consultations suggest a minimum of $15 million will be needed for the whole humanitarian operation. This figure, however, can be expected to increase as the situation continues to evolve.