Botswana + 2 more

Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe: Floods

Appeal 04/2000 was originally launched on 11 February 2000 for CHF 2,800,000. Responding to the evolving nature of the disaster, a revised appeal (No. 1) was issued on 25 February, 2000, focusing particularly on Swaziland and reflecting a revised total budget of CHF 4,667,312. With the situation in the region continuing to worsen, this revision (No. 2) provides an update on the evolving rescue and relief operations in the entire region, the needs, with a particular focus on the situation in Zimbabwe. The total revised budget is now CHF 11,346,464, with CHF 2,720,000 in pledges received to date and CHF 8,626,464 therefore outstanding.


Intermittent rainfall continues to affect parts of Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The continuing wet weather is further provoking the already severe flooding that began in the first week of February with Cyclone Connie, and worsened significantly with the heavy rains and wind delivered by Cyclone Leon-Eline.

Initial reports indicate that an estimated total of 900,000 people in the region could be affected, but assessments are ongoing and the current death toll of several hundred people is likely to rise rapidly once access to isolated areas becomes possible.

Mozambique was the first country to declare a disaster on February 7, with Botswana following on February 16, South Africa on February 17, and Zimbabwe designating certain areas disaster sites on February 24.

While international attention has focused on the dramatic flood scenes in Mozambique and the rescue and relief efforts, the situation in the neighboring countries of Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe is also severe, and the International Federation emphasises the need to respond and assist these countries as well.

The Disaster

The two cyclones which hit southeastern Africa produced heavy rains and strong winds throughout the region, causing overflowing rivers and pressure on dams, and resulting in widespread flooding in large areas of Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. 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, some 900,000 people are estimated to have been affected, with hundreds of thousands left homeless or destitute. Main road and rail lines have been severed, with widespread damage to other infrastructure. An immediate major relief response from government and other agencies has been mounted, but the size and scope of the disaster has been overwhelming. In each of the affected countries, the Federation is coordinating the relief response with the respective National Societies, as well as with UN agencies and NGO’s in an effort which forms part of a wide-ranging multi-agency rescue and assistance operation.

Mozambique was first hit by torrential rains at the beginning of February. The areas worst affected were Maputo City, Maputo Province and Gaza Province. The cyclone continued inland, causing severe flooding in the Northern and Mpupmalanga Provinces of South Africa, around Francistown, and the eastern corridor of Botswana and Swaziland. On 21 February, a new cyclone hit the eastern coast of Mozambique, and affected Zimbabwe where torrential rains caused widespread flooding in Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Midland Provinces. Landslides in some areas presented serious risks, while cultivated land was destroyed and it is feared that severe food shortages will occur in the longer term.

The first priority in Mozambique remains to rescue marooned people. The most recent reports (from 1 March, 2000) indicate that the water level of the Incomati River (Maputo province) and the Save River (Inhambane province) has been decreasing. However, the water level of the Save River is still 0.5 m above a critical level and all low-lying areas along the Save River are totally flooded. Preliminary reports suggested that 60,000 people living along the river have been affected. In Inhambane province, roads in Funhalouro and Manote districts have been cut off. The situation in the Limpopo Valley remains hazardous and the water level at Xai-Xai is above critical level. The water level is increasing and another wave of floodwater was expected to pass through major towns along the river. In Sofala province, the situation in the Buzi basin is becoming critical as discharges from the Chicamaba dam along the Buzi River and heavy rainfalls in Zimbabwe and Mozambique have been increasing the water level of the river.

Reconnaissance flights have confirmed that the worst hit areas are around Chokwe and Canicado (Gaza province). The Mozambican National Institute for Disaster Management identified the following as critical areas: Chibuto, Guija and Xai-Xai in Gaza Province; Govuro in Inhambane Province; Machanga, Machaze and Massangena in Sofala Province. Forecasts predict that the rains are expected to continue into April. Efforts are focusing on decreasing the risk of an epidemic of cholera and other water borne disaeases.

In Zimbabwe, Cyclone Eline proceeded several days of unusually heavy rains, and the resulting flooding has affected an estimated 180,000 people in the provinces of Manicaland, Midlands, Masvingo and Matabeleland South. Residential properties were destroyed or flooded by overflowing rivers. Many bridges were washed away and fallen trees damaged electricity and communication lines, making access and communication almost impossible in many areas. Most of the affected areas are near rivers in the lowland and although some of the victims managed to scramble to higher grounds leaving behind their homes and personal effects, many are still to be evacuated. To date, the death toll stands at 62, including 33 people who drowned when a commuter bus was washed away on a bridge. With many injured and missing, the death toll is expected to increase. Due to the continuing rains, efforts to evacuate stranded people remain difficult. The majority of the victims are small scale farmers with a limited number owning domestic animals. In many cases their fields have been swamped and the crops have been destroyed. To respond to the disaster, the Federation launched an appeal on February 11 for Mozambique and Botswana, and later extended (revised) to Swaziland and Zimbabwe following a dramatic expansion of the affected area. The evolving nature of the situation together with the management and co-ordination requirements in the region have now escalated to such an extent that additional support is urgently needed. Also, with flood waters making access to the affected areas impossible and presenting critical logistics constraints, the only viable way to rescue people and to deliver assistance is by helicopter and air drops, dramatically increasing the transport costs of the operation.

The Response so far

Government Action

In Zimbabwe, the Government declared a state of emergency in the three worst affected provinces on February 24, enabling the various departments involved in the emergency operation to by-pass many of the usual procedures. The Government initially distributed some food in Matabeleland South where, in addition, the army was assisting in evacuating victims. The Government has started repairing the many damaged or washed away bridges.

Red Cross/Red Crescent Action

Immediately upon reports of flooding, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) mobilised branches in the affected areas. Provincial Programme Officers (PPOs) started conducting needs assessment in the accessible areas in the four provinces, also liaising with local authorities for information and in order to co-ordinate the work. In Matebeleland South, the ZRCS Disaster Development and Youth Programme Officer carried out the assessment in 2 out of the 6 camps established. Initially, ZRCS used its emergency stock to distribute food in Manicaland, while 3 hospital tents were also provided, accommodating 50 people each. In Masvingo two hospital tents and water purification tablets were provided at an early stage. The ZRCS has participated from the beginning of the emergency in the daily meetings at the Civil Protection Unit, with Government and other organisations.

Since February 26-27, volunteers have been distributing food (mealie meal, fish, and oil), eating and cooking utensils, plastic sheeting, water purification tablets, and buckets and are also collecting information on the population. In Matabeleland South, volunteers are conducting health education (prevention of diseases, hygiene/sanitation) in the 6 temporary camps. These activities will also be implemented in the remaining three provinces where Health Education Teams will be established.

The Regional Delegation has supplied an initial quantity of polythene sheets for shelter in the affected area and engaged a relief/logistics consultant to assist the ZRCS with the preparation of the operation.

A total of CHF 250,000 has been allocated from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to initiate relief operations in the affected areas in each of the four countries involved.


In Zimbabwe, the Government’s Civil Protection Unit is co-ordinating the country wide operation. This body has regular meetings with various other Government departments as well as NGOs. At the meeting scheduled for 29 February, the various agencies and organisations involved are communicating the extent of their commitments to the emergency operation.

The Intended Operation

Assessment of Needs

ZRCS officers from both local and Headquarters levels have carried out needs assessments in the four affected provinces. Because it has been difficult or even impossible to gain access to certain parts of the affected provinces, the needs assessment results partly derive from the limited information available from Government offices. While further needs assessments are currently underway, the ZRCS is preparing to assist 20,000 of the most vulnerable amongst the people made homeless by the flooding. In collaboration with the Government and other organisations involved, the ZRCS will specify the targeted beneficiaries, with initial indications that 10,000 persons in Manicaland, and the remaining 10,000 to be specified in the remaining three provinces. A limited intervention is expected in the Midlands Province as well.

Immediate Needs

The table below provides a summary of needs in each of the affected countries (Note: the situation is evolving. The needs are based on the information available at this time, and will be adjusted as the situation requires):

NOTE: all items with the exception of vehicles will be purchased locally (see budget for further details).

Anticipated Later Needs

Planning for the anticipated further assistance needs following the emergency operation (food, rehabilitation of homes, agricultural assistance, repair of bore holes and wells) is underway, but in view of the critical nature of the current assistance operation and the lack of access to the affected areas, accurate information related to long-term needs is not available. At the appropriate time, discussions will take place with the government and other actors or agencies on the rehabilitation needs, and details will be communicated to donors as soon as plans are established.

Red Cross Objectives

  • To provide support to the National Societies to meet the emergency needs of 35,000 beneficiaries in Mozambique, 20,000 beneficiaries in Zimbabwe, 20,000 beneficiaries in Botswana, and 10,000 beneficiaries in Swaziland. Support will focus on the provision of food, potable water, shelter, non-food items, and on the promotion and provision of health services, and sanitation, including water and the dissemination of health information.
  • To reinforce the support to the National Societies involved through stronger regional co-ordination of the Federation’s support to the operations in the affected countries.
  • To better assist the Mozambique Red Cross in its support to large groups of beneficiaries by deploying an emergency team in Maputo for a period of up to 6 months.
  • To assess the mid to longer-term needs of the affected population to allow for a smooth transition of the relief operation into a relevant support to post-emergency rehabilitation, and to define a clear exit strategy to the operations.

National Society/Federation Plan of Action

Emergency Phase: March 2000

Initial purchasing of food has already taken place. With the availability of further funds, bulk procurement of the necessary food and non-food items will be carried out. Shelter materials, blankets, and second-hand clothing will be distributed immediately, whereas food items, after an initial distribution, will be provided on a bi-weekly basis. The ZRCS will seek partnerships with other organisations to disengage from the feeding programme after a one month period. Training of volunteers will take place during the initial phase (distribution and health education) and as needs arise in the process of the operation.


In response to the considerable increase of the number of affected people, the Mozambique Red Cross has decided to increase the scope of its response, supporting up to 35,000 beneficiaries in the emergency phase. Priority will be given to homeless persons who are temporarily sheltered in various reception centres in Maputo City, Maputo Province and Gaza Province.

Initial support will focus on the provision of food (based on 2100 kcals per day for 90 days), and non-food items, including shelter, blankets, clothes and kitchen sets. A combined water/sanitation and health education operation will focus on reducing the risk of an outbreak of cholera or other waterborne diseases, as well as controlling the number of malaria cases.

An assessment mission to Mozambique will be initiated as soon as possible to assist the National Society in defining its future support to rehabilitation. The Terms of Reference (ToRs) will be shared with donors shortly. The following candidates are being identified and will be deployed:

  • one team-leader, in charge of co-ordinating the relief effort (6 months);
  • one relief administrator (6 months, already in place since 29 February);
  • one health delegate (3 months);
  • one water and sanitation delegate (6 months);
  • one logistician (3 months).

Co-ordination of the joint National Society and Federation response with the support of other actors is reinforced through the Mozambique Red Cross in its capacity as advisor to the National Institute of Disaster Management, the overall co-ordinator of the response to the disaster. National Society and Federation representatives are also keeping in close contact with the On-site Operations Co-ordination Centre in Maputo.

Botswana and Swaziland

The Baphalali Swaziland Red Cross Society has made a commitment to support 10,000 homeless, primarily in the Hhohho region, considered to be the most affected area in Swaziland.

Support will focus on the distribution of food and non-food items, including shelter, blankets and clothes. Cholera prevention campaigns and the distribution of chlorine tablets will minimise the risk of an outbreak of water borne diseases.

Support to reconstruct houses and continued support to health campaigns is anticipated as the Society’s key contribution to the post emergency rehabilitation.

The Botswana Red Cross Society is responding to the needs of up to 20,000 homeless especially in the Francistown, Boteti and Southern districts. Generous support has been received from the German Red Cross Society through the assistance of a delegate.

The Federation Secretariat will further support the Baphalali Swaziland and Botswana Red Cross Societies by making a Relief Administrator available to support operations in both countries.

Southern Africa Regional Delegation

The Harare Regional Delegation will be reinforced to increase regional co-ordination of the support to the various national responses, and to reinforce the capacities of the regional delegation to adequately support the ongoing relief efforts.

The following delegates are being assigned:

  • one regional relief co-ordinator (12 months);
  • one regional logistician (experienced in the local procurement of relief items; 12 months).

The Federation Regional delegation will focus on supporting and enhancing local and national capacities during the initial emergency and the post emergency phase.

Phase Two: April - August 2000

The second phase will focus on the rehabilitation of homes, bore holes and wells, and agriculture support. The infrastructure support will involve the supply of cement, building materials, agricultural tools and seeds, as well as an education component covering health, food security and general disaster preparedness. Further details will be communicated to donors as soon as the rehabilitation needs are developed.

Capacity of the National Society

On the basis of previous programmes, the ZRCS has considerable experience in implementing relief operations, both at the Headquarters and field levels. The National Disaster Development and Youth Programme Officer will have overall control of the operation, reporting to the ZRCS Secretary General. The volunteers recently trained in basic first aid and basic health care have already been mobilised and assigned to work as Health Education Teams in the four affected provinces, focusing as well on basic psycho-social support. The branch offices in Manicaland, Masvingo and Matebeleland Provinces have limited but sufficient storage facilities, whereas Midlands (where the target group is limited) does not. None of the provinces have four-wheel-drive vehicles, and the ZRCS does not have additional vehicles available for the operation.

Present Capacity of the Federation in Zimbabwe

The Regional Delegation will support the operation in the areas of health, water and sanitation, disaster preparedness, information management, communications and telecommunications, logistics, and reporting.


The Federation will monitor the evolving situation and the implementation of activities in the various countries, and will make adjustments as needed. The Plan of Action will be reviewed after three months. By May, 2000, it is expected that further assessments will be available to plan and generate support for the rehabilitation process.

An evaluation will be carried out after six months.

Budget summary

See Annex 1 for revised budget details, as well as the attached updated List of Contributions. All donors are encouraged to complete and submit Pledge Management Notes (PMNs) when a cash or in-kind contribution has been made or sent. All in-kind consignments must bear a Federation commodity tracking number which are allocated by the Federation Logistics Service. Please contact Misha Chitahvili at phone +41 22 730 43 05, or by email:

Didier Cherpitel
Secretary General

Margareta Wahlström
Under Secretary General
Disaster Response and Operations Coordination