Update on Mozambique and special focus on Botswana
Period covered: 7 - 14 February, 2000
Heavy rains and the resulting flooding throughout the southern Africa region continue to have a widespread humanitarian impact, with homes and infrastructure destroyed, many thousands of people made homeless, crops ruined, and the threat of water-borne diseases increasing daily. Mozambique, Botswana, and Swaziland are particularly affected, and access to carry out more detailed assessments and to provide immediate relief and assistance remains a major problem. Following the launch of the Federation's appeal on Friday, 11 February for Mozambique and Botswana, this situation report focuses on efforts in Botswana and includes a revised appeal budget.
Heavy rains throughout the southern Africa region have led to overflowing rivers and pressure on dams, resulting in widespread flooding in the southern and central parts of Mozambique, Swaziland, and southeastern Botswana. While the process of gathering accurate information 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 called for an immediate major relief response from government and other agencies. In Mozambique, the Mozambique Red Cross Society (MRCS) and International Federation response forms part of a multi-agency relief effort. Federation support is intended to assist approximately 10,000 vulnerable persons in Greater Maputo.
Due to delays in carrying out initial assessments in Botswana, the appeal launched on Friday 11 February focused primarily on the intended action and assistance in Mozambique. While this situation report provides an update on those actions taken to date in Mozambique, the needs in Botswana are particularly emphasised. According to a preliminary assessment report from Botswana's National Disaster Preparedness Office (NDPO) which has the overall responsibility of co-ordinating emergency response, at least 5,200 houses were destroyed, displacing some 32,000 people. The Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) has been actively involved from the outset, working alongside the NDPO. The BRCS was quick to mobilise some 34 volunteers who carried out initial assessment in the most affected areas of Francistown, Letlhakeng, Mabutsane, Serowe and Bobirrwa districts. According to the BRCS, some 600 tents, 500 blankets, and food items have already been delivered to the affected districts.
Meteorologists in the region are forecasting another week of heavy downpours, and the situation is expected to worsen. Health officials have expressed concern over a possible rise in cholera and malaria cases. Assessments continue in both countries, with relief agencies coordinating efforts as much as possible. The most pressing problem facing the humanitarian effort is access to the affected populations and areas.
Maputo Province and Maputo City
In Maputo City, at least 80,000 people are displaced and are being accommodated in makeshift shelters, as well as schools, churches and factories. Schools reopened on Monday 14 February, forcing the relocation of 4,000 evacuees. The Government plans to set up tent camps, and to relocate 1,000 families permanently to more suitable areas. In Matola City, 100,000 to 200,000 people are estimated to be affected by the floods, and 5,000 are being temporarily sheltered and assisted in centres. Although the situation is increasingly under control in these cities, there is an urgent need for tents, safe water, food and sanitation assistance.
Provinces of Gaza
The water level of the Limpopo river is reaching a critical point. Around the towns of Chokwe and Macarratane, 4,640 people are stranded without food, shelter or water. In Macarratane, all houses as well as cars, tractors and other farming equipment are submerged. The Xai Xai airfield was flooded, and can only be used intermittently for relief flights. The Chokwe airstrip is flooded as well. In Inhambane events are being monitored, but at this time the sitatuation is not considered catastrophic. Between the Limpopo and Incomati rivers, there has been severe infrastructure damage to roads, rail lines, and bridges. Many people are stranded on top of isolated elevated road "islands", and crops are inundated.
Initial assessments indicated that Francistown and Botei district are the most affected areas, along with many sub-districts in the North-East, South-East and Southern regions. Most of the displaced persons are temporarily sheltered in schools, churches and tents provided by BRCS. Major roads linking Gabarone with the north of the country are still impassable, however, the railway lines to the south have now been reopened.
The Government of Botswana has requested international assistance, but has not actually declared a national disaster. The NDPO is co-ordinating the emergency operation, and holding meetings every day comprising key government ministries and NGOs. The Government has already provided some food, clothing and blankets to the flood victims. According to the BRCS, contacts have been made with donor missions in Gabarone, many of whom have indicated support once a state of national disaster is declared.
WFP are preparing to deliver food supplies as soon as information is available from the assessments. The German Red Cross has contributed 500 family tents and 3,000 blankets to the BRCS. A German Red Cross delegate has also arrived to assist the BRCS in the flood relief operation, in collaboration with the Federation's Regional Disaster Preparedness Delegate.
Red Cross/Red Crescent action
To support the MRCS and BRCS in their rescue and relief efforts, the Federation launched an appeal for CHF 2.8 Million on 11 February, 2000 to assist an estimated 10,000 beneficiaries for a period of 6 months. To immediately initiate the emergency response activities, CHF 50,000 was allocated for Botswana and CHF 100,000 for Mozambique from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).
Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) and the British Red Cross responded immediately to the urgent needs, arranging an airlift of 408 family tents (4 by 4 metres) to Maputu to be erected on plots already identified for relocated families. 158 tents will be erected in Maputo City, 100 in Matola, and 150 in Maputo Province districts. The Spanish Red Cross has provided this week in-kind support to MRCS with items requested in the appeal such as blankets and kitchen sets, as well as other items such as water mobile plants, jerry cans and additional tents.
In Botswana, the BRCS delivered 600 family tents and 500 blankets to Francistown, Boteti and Southern districts. Most of these tents have been erected in schools and churches. Food items were provided by the Government to the affected people.
All centres for displaced people in Maputo are assisted by the MRCS who provide first aid, health education, chlorine solutions for drinking water, ORS and other medical supplies. 171 volunteers are working in Maputo City, Maputo and Gaza Provinces.
Water and Sanitation
The main treatment plant for the Maputo water supply, initially inundated by the floods, is now back to operating at 75% of full capacity. However, flood damage in some parts of the city still prevents an approximate 80,000 - 100,000 people from having access to safe water. The most affected parts of the city were targeted by Agua de Mozambique, in conjunction with MSF and the Federation's Water and Sanitation Delegates in setting up temporary water tanks and tap stands to be fed by tankers until repairs can be completed. While the Federation team has initially used equipment provided from MSF, this will be replaced with a shipment of WatSan equipment procured by the Federation's Regional Logistics Center in Nairobi. Other materials will be supplied from the Federation's Regional Delegation in Harare.
To further increase the availability of water to those most affected, the Federation is supplying three generators to provide power to borehole systems where power lines were damaged and will take several weeks to repair. MRCS volunteer groups are now providing chlorine at water points in some parts of the city where people are using open wells or boreholes which have become polluted with surface runoff.
Latrines are needed for the sites where dislocated people are now being sheltered, and the Federation has commenced emergency latrine construction while a firm decision is awaited from the Government as to where dislocated people will be permanently settled.
Due to the floodwaters, many standing pools of water have been created, and with the continuing rainfall it is expected that fly and mosquito infestations will increase the risk of water borne disease.
The Federation has ordered fly bait and residual mosquito spraying equipment for vector control, to be deployed at sites where outbreaks of disease may occur in the near future. Training will be given to MRCS volunteers, augmenting similar Government efforts.
Water and Sanitation
Limpopo and Incomati River Basins
In Mozambique, the present flooding in basins and the damage to access roads and the main north road from Maputo means that major interventions will not be possible until floodwaters recede. However, MRCS volunteers already on the ground will be supplemented by more volunteers who will be transported by helicopter to isolated areas in order to provide basic services to stranded groups of people and population centres. Those volunteers will carry basic first aid kits, chlorine tablets for use among the population, and ORS to combat expected water borne diseases. The first group of volunteers will be arrive in the Limpopo basin by 15 February.
The MRCS holds briefing and co-ordination meetings every morning when members of the multidisciplinary group report on activities and problems in their sectors and in the provinces for which they are contact persons. Problems are discussed and resolved, and further or revised needs are identified with decisions recorded for follow up.
The BRCS have been actively involved in this emergency from the outset, focusing on saving lives and improving health conditions by providing shelter and food to the most affected persons. BRCS volunteers are also participating in the evacuation and provision of emergency first-aid to the injured. Once the Government identifies a suitable resettlement site for the displaced, the BRCS will be involved in the long term rehabilitation programmes. The BRCS presently lacks the technical capacity to undertake action in areas such as public health interventions, sanitation, and the repair of water systems. Vital in-kind support from the German Red Cross has facilitated the immediate emergency response.
While the DREF allocations and critical PNS support has provided immediate relief, there is an urgent need for cash contributions. The provision of drinking water for Mozambique and Botswana is ongoing, there is an urgent general need for improved sanitation. With the establishment of tent camps, managerial support will be needed in addition to the coverage of basic needs. The Red Cross and Red Crescent is one of the few operational organisations capable of providing support in this area, and is therefore being requested to assist with organising evacuee camps. While a decision on this is pending a more detailed assessment report, many National Society staff are eager to provide this support in spite of capacity constraints. Depending on this decision, additional delegate support may be required.
As the floods begin to recede in Mozambique's Gaza Province, a rapid assessment of water supply conditions will be carried out to determine what emergency works will be needed to re-establish a safe water supply. It is expected that activities will focus on the rehabilitation of boreholes and shallow wells, as well as providing supplies to assist the population to construct new latrines. This intervention, implemented in conjunction with chlorination and health education, is expected to mitigate the possible outbreak of water borne diseases. The Federation is considering re-deploying available water systems to Mozambique and Botswana.
The BRCS and MRCS also require support in administration and logistics, and development of warehouse/stocks management skills to ensure effective procurement and management of relief stocks. Short-term logistical support will be provided for this purpose.
External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media
The MRCS plays an important advisory role in the Government's Institute for Disaster Management with whom there are contacts several times a day. There are regular meetings with the Ministry of Health, and Maputo City Council, as well as provincial and district authorities. Contact with the UN system takes place in the OCHA framework and in technical co-ordination groups. LINK, an umbrella organisation for NGOs, has taken the initiative to co-ordinate NGO initiatives, many of which currently support food distribution in the suburbs.
The MRCS have launched a national solidarity campaign which is supported by radio and TV spots and announcements and publication of MRCS press releases. Red Cross involvement is increasingly mentioned in the media and in various organisations' activity and status reports. Contact with the press and fund-raising is in the hands of the new information co-ordinator who took up her post at the beginning of February.
There has been a tremendous public response to the MRCS's national solidarity campaign, including an increase in volunteers to assist the operation, as well as cash and in-kind support. Mozambican banks have opened accounts to collect contributions and a large supermarket will carry out fund-raising during a period of two weeks. Cash contributions from citizens and enterprises received by the MRCS to date amount to US$ 58,500.
See Annex 1 for details, as well as the attached revised budget. The contributions list does not yet include all in-kind contributions. These will be reflected in the next update. A number of donors have indicated support (soft pledges), and are encouraged to confirm their support which will also be reflected in the list of contributions in the next situation report.
Director, Africa Department
Director, Operations Funding and Reporting Department