Botswana: Floods - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF: MDRBW004

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Above normal rainfall has been experienced in Mashonaland Central province of Botswana since 23 February 2018. The current rainy season, which started in February, is expected to continue until the end of March 2018. The drastic weather change has resulted in torrential rains that have already affected the district causing displacement, damage to property and a risk of an outbreak of water borne and vector related disease. According to the Department of Meteorology Services, rainfall amounts range between 120-192mm, with a report of dams over spilling causing floods in the neighbouring villages of the Tutume sub district. They also report that the water levels will increase as the rainfall continues until the end of March.

The Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) has received several requests for relief intervention from District Offices, but the Country has not declared the current situation as a national emergency. Although the Government has not declared these floods as national emergency, there are important humanitarian needs such as shelter, WASH, which the National Society is unable to attend to without support; hence, this request to IFRC for a CHF 111,493 DREF grant.

From preliminary local authority assessments, images shared online, on the newspapers and by RC volunteers’ observations on the ground, the most affected villages are in the Tutume sub district, comprising of the following: Gweta, Zoroga and Tsookotshaa.

As of the 26th February, the villages of Gweta, Zoroga and Tsookotshaa were reported to be entirely flooded, affecting approximately 845 households (4,225 people). On 27 February 2018, the affected households were being evacuated to Gweta Vocational Training Centre and Zoroga Primary school. The National Society, through this DREF operation, intends to provide assistance to 564 most affected households in these three severely affected villages (322 HH in evacuation centres, 97 HH moved to host families and approximately 145 HH still living in their partially flooded homes).

A disaster report from the Gweta Disaster Committee revealed that the hospital sewage had overflowed due to the excessive rainfall and contaminated surface water. The report further explains that the sewage is likely to contaminate the nearby boreholes that supply households with their water. The same disaster risk was noted by the 2017 BRCS Flood response operation. The team on the ground have reported that the Water Affairs Department is working on correcting the situation by pumping out the waste to prevent it from overflowing into the water source, to avoid compromised hygiene practices and water quality. There is a serious risk of water and other vector-borne diseases, including Amebic dysentery, Cholera, Hepatitis A and Typhoid, as well as illness carried by mosquitos like malaria that are endemic in the affected areas.

According to a preliminary report from Red Cross volunteers and District Disaster Management Committee on the ground, the water level has continued to increase in the past three days. The team has faced challenges including access to some parts of the village due to flooded roads. In addition, the Department of Meteorology Services also reported on 4 March 2018 a forecast predicting 60% chances of rainfall in the northern parts of Botswana which included the areas areas of Zoroga, Gweta and Tsookotshaa. By 20th of March, it was reported that the rains had reduced in intensity, but the water was yet to recede from flooded areas. As these villages are situated in the Makgadikgadi salt pan, slow receding waters with some pooling could remain for months after the flooding. It should be noted that these same villages are amongst those seriously affected by Cyclone Dineo in February 2017 and are still recovering for the economic set back.