Heavy rains throughout the southern Africa region have lead to overflowing rivers and pressure on dams, resulting in widespread flooding in the southern and central parts of Mozambique and southeastern Botswana. While accurate information gathering to assess the extent of the damage has been impeded by a lack of access to the area, it is clear that hundreds of thousands of people have been affected, with many left homeless. Main road and rail lines have been severed, with widespread damage to other infrastructure. The scale of this disaster requires an immediate major relief response from government and other agencies. The Mozambique Red Cross Society (MRCS) and International Federation response will form part of the multi-agency relief effort. Federation support is sought for a programme comprised of both a humanitarian relief and rehabilitation to approximately 10,000 vulnerable people in Greater Maputo and Botswana. While assessments for Botswana are currently in process and details on needs are not yet available, the types of assistance required are anticipated to be roughly similar to that of Mozambique. A separate update and details on the situation and the response effort in Botswana will follow shortly. South Africa has also reportedly suffered from the heavy rains, however an appeal for external assistance is not being considered at this time.
As a result of heavy rains since October and the progressive opening of dams in neighbouring countries, Mozambique's Inkomati, Umbeluzi and Limpopo rivers overflowed their banks, resulting in severe flooding of large areas of southern Mozambique, in particular Maputo and Gaza Provinces. Thousands of families have been made homeless, many losing all their possessions. During the night of 6 February, 300 mm of rainfall was recorded - one of three days of torrential rainfall. In Matola, 25 km from Maputo, people living in poor quality housing were severely affected in areas inundated by fast moving flood water. Road access to and from Maputo has been cut off by the destruction of two bridges in the Maputo Corridor.
The floods are considered to be the worst in 40 years. More than 100,000 people have been affected in Matola and about 100,000 in Maputo City; many are now homeless. In Maputo Province alone more than 21 people are reported dead and many have disappeared or been injured. People who have been forced to leave their homes are temporarily accommodated in makeshift shelters, schools and other public buildings. The supply of drinking water for Maputo and Matola is seriously threatened by the flooding of the water treatment stations and damaged water mains.
In Botswana, meteorologists reported that about 371 mm of rain had fallen in southern Botswana over a three day period. This figure represents three quarters of the average annual rainfall of 500 mm in one of the most arid nations in southern Africa. Reports indicate the rains were expected to last at least through the weekend. Most of Botswana's major roads are impassable, and the main route linking Gaborone with the north of the country, was washed away near the town of Morwa, about 70 kms north of the capital. The country's north-south railway line linking it with South Africa and Zimbabwe had been closed, while crops in many areas were destroyed. The current situation is marked by increased water levels in several dams: Shashe (30 km south of Francistown), Bokaa (20 km north of Gabarone) and Nywane ( near Lobatse). Gabarone dam, about 2 km from the city centre, also began overflowing on the evening of 10 February. Botswana's National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) has overall responsibility for the emergency response, and security forces and police are assisting in the evacuation of flood victims. Initial information from the NDMC shows that over 25,000 people are affected, 4,000 houses/huts have been destroyed, and numerous bridges and roads flooded or washed away. Radio Botswana is broadcasting information on the evolving situation, and warning the public to be alert for collapsing infrastructure as well as advising against attempts to cross fast flowing rivers. To respond to the worsening situation, the Government has appealed for emergency humanitarian assistance, including tents, blankets, and food rations.
Throughout the affected areas in both countries, cases of diarrhoea and malaria are expected to rise dramatically. Cholera is endemic and again an increase is almost certain.
Also Gaza Province, north of Maputo, is heavily affected and the province of Inhambane may once again experience flooding. If necessary, supplementary appeals will be drafted for these provinces as well.
In close collaboration with the government and other organisations, the Mozambique Red Cross Society has initiated flood relief measures and launched a national solidarity campaign to raise support for the relief operation.
The Response so far
In Mozambique, the National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) is responsible for supervising the situation, assessing needs, and taking action to reduce the effects of the floods. More specifically, the following government action has been taken:
- implementing contingency plans for all provinces;
- declaring a state of alert in all potential flood regions;
- evacuating people from low-lying areas, some by helicopter;
- conducting a preliminary assessment of the situation;
- supervising the effect of discharges from major dams;
- increasing curative health interventions at established clinics and hospitals by the Ministry of Health;
- conducting preliminary assessments on repairing damaged infrastructure has as yet not been initiated.
In Botswana, CHF 50,000 has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to meet the first needs in Botswana. A detailed plan of action will be provided through the next situation report.
In Mozambique, all emergency stocks have been distributed, CHF 100,000 has been allocated from DREF and the MRCS is currently intervening in the following areas:
- Health: Red Cross volunteer participation in some evacuations and provision of First Aid. Red Cross teams have made home visits to give basic preventive health education and first aid. First aid posts are being established in areas without sanitation. Chlorine to purify water is also being distributed, and training in how to apply it.
- Special attention is being paid to the needs of vulnerable groups (elderly, women and children), many of whom have been made destitute.
- Fund-raising in cash and kind to assist flood victims;
- Psychological support to traumatised flood victims.
Other Agencies' Action
MSF have suspended all development activities in order to concentrate on relief work. On the ground, a resident MSF team is taking measures in collaboration with MRCS volunteers to provide temporary water points as well as disseminating information on the prevention of water-borne diseases. MSF have also agreed to provide water and sanitation equipment to the Federation team to assist in the provision of temporary water points. Materials borrowed from MSF will be replaced by this appeal. Most other NGO interventions are pending.
Mozambique's National Institute of Disaster Management is co-ordinating the disaster response. The Mozambique Red Cross Society is the only permanently participating humanitarian organisation and plays an important function as advisor to the body. Coordination meetings are currently held daily. Daily meetings in the MRCS emergency group (GODE) are taking place every morning to report and find solutions to current needs.
Co-ordination of Red Cross action at the local level is carried out by the provincial delegations and district commissions in close collaboration with public bodies. The provincial delegations report to the MRCS headquarters.
The provincial health technicians are responsible for the implementation of the relief programme, supported by the MRCS headquarters who also prepare donor activity reports.
The Intended Operation
Assessment of Needs
The beneficiaries include approximately 10,000 people who have been evacuated into the Greater Maputo area, and urgently require shelter, blankets, health, water, sanitation, social services, and rehabilitation assistance. Food requirements will be met by WFP and the government, with the Red Cross providing assistance in distribution.
In short, the following assistance is needed:
- 400 tents for shelter;
- 5,000 blankets and 3,000 cotton wraps;
- 1,500 kitchen utensils;
- Soap, chlorine, medical kits (50 PS1 and 25 PS2);
- Materials for temporary water supply, water purification and latrine construction;
- Materials for vector control;
- Construction materials for the rehabilitation of housing;
- 2 vehicles;
- Transport, fuel and maintenance;
- Support for storage costs;
- Telecommunications equipment;
- Office materials and equipment.
Assistance for specialised technical assessment needs is being provided by the Regional Delegation in Harare. The Regional WatSan delegate and a WatSan trainee have already arrived in Maputo. A relief delegate is required to support the intervention throughout the 6 month period.
Immediate Needs covered by this Appeal
- Provision of adequate shelter, blankets and utensils;
- Provision of safe water and sanitation facilities;
- Support to Ministry of Health, curative and preventative health;
- Targeting of the most vulnerable;
- Social services.
- Rehabilitation, particularly in construction of housing;
- Continuation of social services, particularly of the most vulnerable;
- Health education and preventative health measures.
The overall objective of the MRCS intervention is to provide humanitarian assistance to those most affected by floods in Greater Maputo. To reduce the damage caused by the floods to the population in the provinces, and to improve their conditions during the period of refuge and upon return to their homes. The operation has the following specific short and medium term objectives:
- To provide temporary shelter and support to rehabilitation of ruined homes;
- To provide first aid and support to the Ministry of Health;
- To disseminate preventive health care through the distribution of health education materials and home visits;
- To limit the occurrence of diseases caused by flooding, lack of safe water and poor sanitation.
Emergency Phase: February - March 2000
Continue present rescue and relief activities, mobilise local resources, both humanitarian and material. In accordance with the appeal, procure required materials and equipment and distribute accordingly, most importantly to needs in shelter, health, water and sanitation. The National Society intend to supply two additional staff for the operation.
Based on assessments due to take place once the emergency phase is concluded, a second phase covering rehabilitation activities will be implemented. The phase will include the ongoing meeting of needs as they arise, with potential expansion into Maputo and Gaza provinces. Those most affected by the floods will be assisted to return to their homes, coordinating efforts closely with government and local structures. Rehabilitation support will be provided to the most vulnerable for the reconstruction of housing. Health, water, sanitation and social services will be initiated or continued as required.
Capacity of the National Society
The management capacity of the MRCS Headquarters is adequate. The proximity of the present disaster implies that management will be able to respond effectively. The MRCS has extensive relief experience but support is needed in the provinces. Transport and communication capacities are insufficient for the emergency operation.
Present Capacity of the Federation in Mozambique
The Maputo delegation comprises two Federation Development Delegates (ID/RD and FDD) and two local staff. Additional technical support is available from the Harare Regional Delegation depending on the needs.
Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring of the operation will be carried out by the MRCS programme co-ordinators and supported by the Development Delegates. Regular Situation Reports will be submitted to donors. The Relief Delegate will be responsible for monitoring and reporting on activities in the field, and act as counterpart to the MRCS relief coordinator. A joint review will be carried out by the Federation and National Society after 3 months, and a full evaluation after completion of the operation. The Regional Disaster Preparedness Delegate will participate in an assessment of the operation.
Under Secretary General
Disaster Response & Operations Coordination