UN responds to floods in Mozambique
CHIHAQUELANE, Mozambique, 08 February 2013 – "All I want is medical assistance and a safe place to protect my newborn baby girl," says Hortência Massango, a 25-year-old woman from Chokwe, in Gaza province, who after giving birth on a roof was rescued and taken to Chihaquelane, a temporary displacement site.
"When the rain began to get worse I had to climb onto the roof of the neighboring house, where eventually I ended up giving birth. I was alone but moments later I was helped out by other people who advised me to step down because they feared that I would have complications,” she remembers.
Hortência is one of the 200,000 Mozambicans affected by severe floods. She is from the Gaza, the hardest hit province, where 38 people died and over 140,000 were displaced, most of them women and children. Countrywide over 100 people have been killed in the floods that also affected the provinces of Inhambane, Manica, Sofala and Zambézia.
In response to the situation, UN agencies joined the Government and NGOs to help lessen the impact, especially among the most vulnerable. One of those agencies is United Nations Fund for Population (U NFPA). “All our efforts are aimed at avoiding an increase in maternal morbidity and mortality due to the lack of access to health care at the time of delivery, and also to protect women and girls from violence,” says UNFPA Representative in Mozambique, Bettina Maas.
Ms. Maas said that even in good times, complications of pregnancy and childbearing are a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age in Mozambique. “In a situation of trauma, psychological distress, malnutrition and poor sanitation, pregnancy becomes far riskier, as does the prevention and treatment of HIV,” she said. “UNFPA is also concerned with the eventual occurrence of violence against girls and women in the displacement sites.”
Strategically, UNFPA is working with the health and protection authorities to guarantee that all matters related to safe motherhood and security are dealt with. This week, the organization teamed up with the Ministry of Women of Social Affairs to distribute over 500 dignity kits to women affected by the floods in Maputo.
“We hope that these products will help you in this moment,” said the Minister of Women and Social Affairs, Iolanda Cintura, at the ‘Solidariedade’ temporary shelter in Mavalane neighborhood. She explained that the kit contains hygiene items and are meant for pregnant women, nursing mothers and adolescent girls.
The Ministries of Health and Women and Social Affairs in partnership with UNFPA are distributing 3,000 dignity and Reproductive Health kits in Gaza province. The reproductive health kits will be managed by health professionals and will meet the needs of affected health centers.
Meanwhile, its estimated that the number of affected people might rise, which would add to the burden in various sectors, particularly that of health. To face the situation, the Humanitarian Country Team has developed a Recovery Response Proposal to seek US$29 million from donors. The proposal includes activities aimed at securing safe deliveries; preventing HIV, sexual and gender-based violence; providing psychosocial support to women victims of violence; and providing hygiene supplies.