Torrential rains and flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa have left tens of thousands of families homeless. An estimated 1.5 million people have been affected by the floods in Mozambique, another 0.5 million in Zimbabwe. Of these, 251,000 people in Mozambique and 20,000 in Zimbabwe have been displaced from their homes. It is impossible to know just how many people were swept away by the rising waters, but estimates run into the thousands.
While most attention has been given to Mozambique, in neighbouring Zimbabwe the country's major rivers also overran their banks, destroying homes, bridges, dams, roads, schools, clinics and farmland.
In both countries the greatest damage occurred in the Limpopo and Save river basins, in eastern and southern Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique. The Mutirikwi and Runda rivers in Zimbabwe also flooded, as did the Buzi in Mozambique.
Rescue in the sense of plucking people out of trees has wound down this week. However, thousands remain stranded on islands of high ground and require food and water. As the waters recede, people will return to homes where they will continue to require outside assistance to reestablish the provision of clean water, as well as food and shelter.
Health concerns are pressing. There is an immediate threat of a cholera outbreak, due to contaminated water and crowded conditions. The floodwaters have also provided excellent breeding grounds for malaria-bearing mosquitoes.
2. What is Oxfam doing?
Oxfam America is supporting the relief efforts of our long-term development partners; Oxfam America has been working in Mozambique since 1980. OA is also collaborating with other members of Oxfam International, under the coordination of the emergency relief section of Oxfam Great Britain.
Oxfam has concentrated its activities in Mozambique's Gaza Province, first assisting in the rescue mission of stranded people, and providing water and sanitation facilities to camps of displaced peoples in Macia which now hold 40,000 people. This is being done in concert with Mozambican emergency coordinating committees.
Oxfam procured and transported relief goods not immediately available in Mozambique. These included plastic sheeting, blankets and water kits, which were airfreighted to Maputo for distribution.
Oxfam undertook a full public health assessment and deployed a water and sanitation team (five engineers, two public health specialists, and two logisticians) plus 20 tons of equipment and supplies in Macia, the most affected zone in Mozambique.
Oxfam is currently providing water for most of the 52,000 displaced people in and around Macia. Installation of equipment continues in hopes of increasing the number of litres per person provided per day.
Oxfam has built some 200 latrines in the camps in the Macia area, and will soon launch a public health education campaign focused on cholera prevention.
Oxfam has also conducted aerial and ground surveys of Chibuto in the Limpopo, Save and Buzi river basins.
Outside of the work in displaced peoples' camps, Oxfam has produced and distributed five hundred family survival kits in Gaza and Maputo provinces. These kits contain essential household items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, biscuits, salt, sugar, tea, beans, oil, sardines, saucepans, soap, utensils, plates and cups, and matches.
Lastly Oxfam responded quickly to the second wave of flooding on February 26-27 by procuring inflatable boats with outboard motors in South Africa, and deploying them in collaboration with a local partner organization and South African volunteers. In the Limpopo basin, they rescued more than 1,000 people. The boats have now been passed over to the new central coordination unit.
3. What needs to be done next?
Oxfam plans to extend its water and sanitation work to other areas as the flood waters recede, including Chibuto, Chokwe and Xai-Xai in Mozambique's Gaza province. In the Save Valley area of southern Sofala province and northern Inhambane province, Oxfam will provide further technical support in water and sanitation to relief efforts being carried out by other organizations.
Camps sheltering 5,500 displaced people near the towns of Chibuto, Chokwe and Xai-Xai require immediate water and sanitation facilities. In addition, functioning water facilities must be reestablished throughout the zone before displaced people begin moving back to their homes.
In the Save Valley, Oxfam plans to provide
equipment and staff to improve the temporary water supply in camps housing
10,000 displaced people, as well as temporary water provision in the towns
of Mambone and Machanga.
In Mozambique, once the flood waters recede, Oxfam will assist local organizations to help people rebuild their lives, providing materials such as seeds, tools and building supplies.
In Zimbabwe, waters have receded and people are returning to their homes. Emergency shelter is needed for families to live in as they rebuild their homesteads. Oxfam plans to support the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of two longstanding partners, Zimbabwe Project Trust and ORAP in eastern and southeastern parts of the country. This will include home-building, re-drilling of collapsed boreholes and reconstruction of breached dams. Food aid will be essential in the medium term.
The situation changes daily and Oxfam adapts its relief efforts accordingly.
4. How can I help?
Cash or credit card donations are the best way, so that supplies may be purchased in the region.
Please do not donate goods, since they cannot be transported efficiently.
Many Mozambicans and Zimbabweans have volunteered in relief and rescue efforts, so volunteers from the US are not needed.
To make a donation, call 1-800-77-OXFAM
(6-9326). Or you can mail a check made out to Oxfam America to:
Mozambique Relief and Rehabilitation
Fund (in memo line)
PO Box 1745
Boston, MA 02105-1745
Hold a fund raiser in your community. Oxfam will provide informative materials. Just email email@example.com
5. What is Oxfam America's History in Mozambique?
Oxfam America is unique in that our emphasis is on sustainable development beyond disasters. Since 1982, Oxfam America has invested more than 4 million dollars in successful self-help projects in Mozambique, and Oxfam will continue to be there for the people of Mozambique during this most critical time of reconstruction. Here is our work history in the country beginning in 1982:
1982: Funded Green zones
1983: Baruda Education Center boat; communal village tools; Green Zone windmill repair
1984: Mozambique literacy campaign; emergency relief; disaster and development feasibility study; emergency subsistence agricultural package; rural water supply
1985: Disaster/ development feasibility study; emergency subsistence agricultural package; Magoe district water supply; windmills and tanks for Green Zones; rural water supply in Manica province; Green Zones in Tete province; library for Green Zones in Tete province; emergency medical supplies; seeds for Mozambique; Chokwe chicken project; Radio Mozambique; Manica rural extension-blacksmiths and poultry; emergency fund for medicine
1986: Magoe district water supply, emergency seed and health facilities improvement; rural water supply in Manica province; Radio Mozambique garden; support for Maputo Green Zones families; schools for Green Zones and Magoe
1987: Manica province rural water supply; emergency seed for Mozambique; emergency medical supplies; truck for Tete Green Zones; seeds and health facilities improvement in Magoe district; emergency support for displaced and provision of water in Moatize; monitoring of project purchases
1988: Manica province rural water supply; emergency support for displaced people in Tete district; ambulances for Tete and Magoe; truck for Tete Green Zones
1989: Maputo Green Zones ceramic production and chicken aviaries; clothing and commercialization for Magoe and Moatize; Moatize water system rehabilitation
1990: Moatize water system rehabilitation; Maputo peri-urban water supply system; training in sanitation and water supply in Maputo; overall project monitoring, evaluation, and technical support
1991: Benga refugee camp water supply; Moatize water system rehabilitation program; cholera emergency in Tete, Niassa and Zambezia; Manica provincial rural water supply workshop; monitoring, evaluation and technical support
1992: Maputo peri-urban water supply system; Moatize water supply rehabilitation program; project monitoring, evaluation and technical support; training of farm cooperative workers and general union of cooperatives in Manica province; chicken aviaries in Machava
1993: Project monitoring, evaluation, technical support; cholera emergency supplies; institutional strengthening of local partners
1994: Manica province support program; institutional support to Mozambique association of rural women and national farmerís union; Portuguese translation by Human Rights Watch; support to Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centerís Mozambique election observation and radio outreach program for voter education
1995: Rural womenís market gardening project; legal assistance to peasants for land registration program
1996: Livestock revolving loan fund and training to rural women; research on violence against girls and the role of men in family planning; credit and commercialization project for families; advocacy and legal assistance relating to land rights
1997: Livestock revolving loan fund and training to rural women; action research, exchange, legal education and policy advocacy on womenís rights; credit and commercialization projects for families; advocacy and alliance-building training for Southern Africa partners
1998: Employment creation for peasant families; advocacy and outreach concerning new land law; support for civic education programs, training in gender, womenís rights and new land law; institutional support to national union of peasant farmers
1999: Participation of grassroots women in reform of family laws; networking on legal reform; joint Oxfam advocacy; coalition building for participation in reform of family law; planning grant for Media Womenís Association.
2000: Funds provided to long-term development partners and Oxfam International coordinated response to devastating flooding from rain and two cyclones, one on top of the other.
Oxfam America's Southern Africa Regional Office is located in Harare, Zimbabwe, which is why Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser was able to make an early visit to Mozambique to evaluate the initial flooding even before the news media had heard about the disaster.