According to the United Nations, 250,000 homeless people now live in 64 camps around the country while another 250,000 remain in their devastated villages. Over the last week, helicopters have rescued more than 13,000 people rescued from roofs and trees in the Southern Africa countries of Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. However, the attention is now shifted to delivering food, clean water, and medicine as the floodwaters recede.
This region was recently struck with the most devastating floods in over 50 years. Thousands are still stranded and awaiting airlifts to safety while thousands of refugee children have either lost or been separated from their parents. It will take the region decades to recover. More than one million people have been displaced by the latest wave of floods. "Our local partners are completely overwhelmed and are in desperate need of assistance," explained Catholic Relief Services Southern Africa Regional Representative Will Campbell.
Catholic Relief Services' Response
Catholic Relief Services has made an initial commitment of $200,000 in response to the emergency and the agency is working with local church partners in Zimbabwe and South Africa as well as three dioceses in Mozambique. In addition, the agency is working with International Caritas and CIDSE partners to identify the most appropriate response to meet immediate human needs for food, water, health care and shelter.
Catholic Relief Services' response will aim to save lives and sustain livelihoods, while strengthening civil society. "Two emergency specialists are in the region to assess how to support our partners. Catholic Relief Services has also identified Portuguese-speaking emergency personnel from Catholic networks within the Southern Africa region. These people will help our partners think through their response to the emergency, and reach as many people as possible," says Campbell.
Background of the Situation
Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana have suffered serious damage from the flood - almost all infrastructure has been reduced to mud. Mozambique's economy has grown an average of 10 percent annually since 1996 and approximately one-third of the staple crop of maize has been lost and many of the region's cattle have been destroyed. Hundreds of people are dead and cholera and malaria are becoming an increasing problem as floodwaters recede and stagnate. Many younger children are suffering from diarrhea. Clean water is still in critical demand.
Catholic Relief Services has had a regional office based in Harare, Zimbabwe since 1989 and has been working with local Catholic partners in the region for more than 10 years.