In the Mozambique capital, Maputo, and the nearby industrial city of Matola, four days of torrential rain have forced thousands of people to take shelter in school buildings, with classes having been suspended. Parts of the cities have been hit by water shortages as piping was destroyed, and there are also shortages of bread and other food. The city, with one million residents, was for a period isolated, with entry impossible to all but those using helicopters and boats.
Government officials in Maputo have reported tens of thousands of hectares of farmland had been washed away after the Incomate, Sabie, Ubmeluzi, Movene and Maputo rivers burst their banks following heavy rains since the weekend.
Oxfam's Country Representative based in Maputo, Kate Horne, has reported that, in addition to the people badly affected in Maputo and Matola city, there are probably many more people stranded in districts in the southern provinces of Maputo and Gaza."In the city, people whose houses have been washed away or flooded out have gathered in school buildings, mainly in groups of 100-200, they have nothing", she said.
Oxfam is sending an assessment team to the area, and is likely to concentrate its relief effort on the tens of thousands of people outside the cities who are badly affected, though there is also a risk that Maputo's central water supply could fail, potentially causing a severe threat to public health.
Other urgent needs are for blankets, clothes, food, small gas cookers for cooking food, medicines, sand bags - to help people protect their houses if they still exist, soap, salt, sugar, tea, pots/pans, gerry cans, have all been identified as immediate needs. Field kitchens are also required - there are no cooking facilities in the schools where people have gathered, and the schools would be damaged if charcoal fires were used in them. The rain continues, meaning that it is not possible to cook outside.