Botswana + 3 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #15, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published

Regional Overview

The South African Weather Bureau reports heavy cloud cover in southern Mozambique. This area is expected to receive rain until the end of this week.

The heaviest rainfall accumulation will remain in the Mozambique Channel east of Maputo. Rains in Mozambique, in addition to rains in neighboring countries, could increase the level of Limpopo River. The Umbeluzi basin in Maputo could also rise due to predicted rain in neighboring countries.

Thunderstorm activity is expected in northern Madagascar in the coming days, as well as in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Angola. Thunderstorms are also expected in Lesotho and the southern coast of South Africa in the coming days.


Floodwaters: In the past 24 hours, 7 cm of rainfall was reported in Vilanculos. Currently, a low-pressure system in Inhambane is predicted to bring rainfall to Gaza Province. Rainfall levels are reportedly decreasing in southern Sofala.

An increase in the water levels of the Save River and the Pungue basin has been registered, primarily due to continued rains. A decrease in levels was registered on the Zambezi River at Caia. The levels reported from the Limpopo basin have decreased but are still above alert levels. The Incomati River is 83 cm above alert level in Magude.

The U.S. Air Force reports that central Mozambique can expect cloudy skies with thunderstorms in the next four days. Rain is forecast through March 19 in the southern region of Mozambique, and thunderstorms are forecast for Beira and Maputo. Beira may receive up 2.54 cm of rain over the next 48 hours.

Shelter: As of March 13, the US Joint Task Force Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC) reported that 315,422 people, including 57,409 children under five years of age, are receiving at least partial emergency assistance. Most of these populations are located in 82 accommodation centers with a population of 315,422 (29 in Gaza, 10 in Inhambane, 37 in Maputo, and six in Sofala). This information was drawn from USAID and the Government of Mozambique’s (GRM) National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), as well as UN agencies.

In addition, humanitarian agencies are now tracking a new category of population groups housed in isolated centers. There are an estimated 19 isolated centers with a population of 39,585.

The provincial government of Inhambane reported that, as of March 13, there were nine isolated population centers in Inhambane with approximately 24,050 people total and an additional four accommodation centers with an estimated total of 3,078 people. (Note: These figures do not correspond directly with the CMOC information listed above.)

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the Chiacalane accommodation center now houses 57,183 people. Water is provided by three large water containers, and 355 latrines are being built. A health post with 12 national health workers is operating in the camp. There are an additional 23,140 people in the Chokwe region in six camps.

Health: The UN Development Program (UNDP) has released preliminary data from its priority emergency needs assessment of accommodation centers in Maputo province (including Maputo city and Matola city). The assessment team noted health and water/sanitation needs are being adequately met in the province. Lack of medicines and nurses was noted at four centers, and detergents and cleaning materials were lacking at many of the centers. In addition, tents, blankets, and cooking utensils were identified as priority needs.

The GRM’s Ministry of Health (MOH) reports that, as of March 13, the total number of cases of cholera since late January is more than 1,800. To date, 11 deaths have been registered.

Reuters reports indicate that the consumption of contaminated maize is possibly contributing to deteriorating health conditions as residents return to their homes and attempt to salvage ruined crops.

According to USAID/Maputo, crocodiles in unusually large numbers and extended areas are posing safety risks to flood-affected populations. Snakes and hippopotomi, which presumably have made their way through flooded rivers from their normal habitats, also may pose danger to returning populations.

Water/Sanitation: A Red Cross team arrived in Mozambique on March 12. The contingent will integrate with the provincial government in Inhambane and assist in the water/sanitation sector. The Red Cross team will also coordinate with the USAID/DART water/sanitation specialist due to arrive in Mozambique on March 17.

Food and Agriculture: On March 14, the UN World Food Program (WFP) delivered 70 MT of food. There were no truck deliveries in Beira, because there were several breaks in the road between Beira and Save due to heavy rainfall over the past several days. People and relief goods are reportedly stranded at points on the road, and helicopters are being mobilized to provide assistance.

On March 13, WFP reported that 100 MT of food were delivered, including 50 MT that were pre-positioned at Mutarara in Tete province in case of flooding in the Zambezi and Chire river basins. This brings the total food distributions since the operation began on February 11 to 2,300 MT. WFP is working with the GRM’s Ministry of Agriculture emergency group to plan for effective seed protection rations to accompany any seeds and tools distributions.

OCHA reports that the distribution of seeds and tools has begun in accommodation centers in Chibuto.

From March 11 - 12, about 400 MT of food was delivered to distribution points, out of which 100 MT was transported by road.

WFP reports it has 7,000 MT of additional food supplies, which will provide for the needs of 365,000 people for one month.

Education: The GRM’s Ministry of Education (MOE) continues to assess the situation in accommodation centers and, where possible, provide tents and kits of basic materials (e.g. books, pencils) so that at least primary classes can restart for the displaced children. The school-age population is estimated at over 100,000 of the roughly 329,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The MOE is convening a meeting of donors later this week to elicit preliminary information on various donors’ interests and plans in schools-related disaster response.

Transport/logistics: The distribution of 50 MT of food from Beira to Chitubo and Chongwene has been put on hold after parts of the road from Beira to the Save river basin were washed away, according to WFP. WFP reports it can take up to 10 days to repair the vital road link.

OCHA reports that there are now 55 aircraft (40 helicopters and 15 airplanes) currently working for the relief operation in Mozambique. Since the beginning of February, 45,600 persons have been rescued.

Affected Numbers: The GRM estimates 1.2 million people have been affected by flooding. Of the total figure, about 320,000 people are currently housed in accommodation centers, and about 400,000 IDPs remain outside of accommodation centers. An additional 335,000 people remain seriously affected. (An additional 900,000 people are also indirectly affected.)

According to the GRM, one third (27%) of the country's staple crop, maize, has been destroyed, along with 40,000 head of cattle and 141 schools. According to aid agencies, the death toll, currently near 500, is expected to rise after the waters recede.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Response Update

The Miami-Dade Search and Rescue (SAR) component of the USAID/DART is planning to demobilize by March 16, 2000, unless further rescue action is warranted. Upon departure, the team plans to loan several inflatable boats and vehicles to Food for the Hungry (FHI) upon departure. The SAR equipment will be used in ongoing relief assistance efforts in the Zambezi and Buzi areas. The US Ambassador to Mozambique is expected to handover the equipment, valued at approximately $200,000, on March 17.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) is currently transitioning out of the Joint Logistics Operations Center (JLOC) of the UN's On Site Operations Coordinating Center (OSOCC). The team’s transition handover of JLOC operations to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNDAC) team will be completed by March 16. The USCG is expected to demobilize on March 17.

As of March 13, the USCG has facilitated the transfer of almost 400 MT of relief supplies and transported approximately 500 people.

On March 14, USAID/OFDA-funded AIRSERV continued conducting relief operations throughout Mozambique. AIRSERV transported 798 passengers, medically evacuated 12 people, and rescued more than 30 people from trees. In addition, AIRSERV transported 200,635 kg of food and non-food relief items.

To date, USAID has provided close to $12.9 million in response to the flooding crisis in southern Africa.

This assistance includes USAID/OFDA funding to deploy two additional UN World Health Organization medical kits to Mozambique. These kits are capable of treating 10,000 people for 90 days and complement three kits sent previously. Each health kit is valued at approximately $6,000.

On March 14, the USAID/DART cartographer and the USAID/Famine and Early Warning Systems regional representative met with officials from the national remote sensing and cartography center. The center is processing satellite imagery to produce a comprehensive country map, as well as maps showing the extent of flood plain damage. The USAID cartographers will assist the center in the verification and dissemination of this and other information sources that currently exist on accommodation centers, damages, warehouses, and distribution points.

USAID-funded activities through contract partners to strengthen diarrheal disease programs, as well as cholera prevention activities.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Response

On March 14, aerial assessment of flood-affected areas and distribution of aid will continue using the U.S. military fixed-wing and helicopter aircraft support.

The Joint Task Force Commander remains heavily engaged in supply distribution throughout the region.

Local Response

The Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery has established a committee to deal with monitoring and evaluating the agricultural situation, updating information on stocks, procurement of needed items, and distribution of relief commodities.

International Response

Information on donor activities and international response to date is available at

WFP expects to donate $3 million to the South African National Defense Force helicopter operations (supporting food logistics capacity) and $ 4 million to the GRM for emergency road rehabilitation programs.

Donors have pledged at least $108 million in relief aid for Mozambique. This amount excludes the cost of aid operations by the militaries of South Africa and at least six Western nations, including the United States.

On March 14, the UNDP and the National Institute for Mine Clearance in Mozambique announced an emergency plan to help clear land mines that may have been displaced by the flooding. Handicap International and Norwegian People’s Aid will support the four-month emergency program. The team is gathering more information to determine how best to address the issues. The officers report that shelter is not expected to be a critical need.


According to the latest UN and Government of Zimbabawe (GOZ) estimates, 100 people have died from the floods in Zimbabawe and 96,000 people have been directly affected. Among the affected are 20,000 IDPs who are temporarily sheltered in camps and available local facilities. As many as 500,000 are indirectly affected.

The flooding has directly affected the provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matebeleland South, and Midlands, located in southern and eastern Zimbabawe.

Immediate needs identified by the GOZ include access to or rescue of people in isolated areas, evacuation of populations in vulnerable areas, and provision of immediate relief (e.g. food, water, shelter, healthcare) to displaced persons. Extensive damage to crops and infrastructure were reported in all four provinces. A majority of the populations in affected areas is predominantly subsistence farmers.


The USAID/DART field officer continues to assess affected areas in Madagascar and review proposals from NGOs, in collaboration with USAID/Antananarivo. A USAID/DART water/sanitation specialist is en route to Madagascar to assist in assessments.

On March 15, UN officials reportedly identified distribution as the primary obstacle in the relief effort in Madagascar--. Current relief supplies appear to be adequate.

Food airlifts conducted by the French Navy in Madagascar were postponed on March 14 due to poor weather. Deteriorating weather also prevented the delivery of rice to a village in the Tsaratanana Mountains.

Relief efforts in northeast Madagascar are almost completed and efforts are now concentrated on the more isolated eastern coastal areas. WFP has begun airlifting 400 MT of food aid to affected residents including the eastern towns of Mahanoro, Antalaha, Vatomandry, and Belo-Tsiribihina.

According to OCHA, about 1,000 people have died of cholera since March 1999, 8% of which were children. Child survival experts estimate that 1,000 - 1,500 children under the age of 3 years die of non-cholera diarrheal disease every month.

Cyclone Leon-Eline severely hit the East Coast of Madagascar on February 17 and passed through the country approximately 80 km north of Antananarivo. On March 2, Tropical Storm Gloria crossed through a similar portion of Madagascar. The GOM has also reported that some 200 people have died as a result of the storms.


The UNDP and the Government of Botswana (GOB) report that there are 94,380 people affected and 15,730 homes damaged or destroyed. The displaced are reportedly accommodated with host families, in tents or in collective centers.

USAID/OFDA field officers report that potable water is a concern due to damaged wells. Mosquito nets, tents, and water purification systems may also be needed.

The team is gathering more information to determine how best to address needs. The officers report that shelter may not be a critical need.

A USAID/OFDA field officer and water/sanitation specialist is in Botswana to assist with a flood assessment and response efforts, in collaboration with USAID/Gaborone.

According to the Government of Botswana’s National Disaster Committee, the northeastern part of Botswana was the worst affected area by flooding affecting an estimated 73,000 people and damaging secondary roads. Water and sanitation is a major concern due to contaminated water systems.

South Africa

Extensive flooding has severely affected the northeastern parts of South Africa and resulted in displacement of several small but isolated populations.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

Country USG Agency Activities Funded
Mozambique USAID/OFDA Medecins Sans Frontieres for emergency relief activities
USAID/OFDA Grant to WFP for the provision of relief commodities and logistical support.
USAID/OFDA Grant to Save the Children/U.S. for emergency health initiatives in Gaza Province, for approximately 55,000 beneficiaries.
USAID/OFDA 200 rolls of plastic sheeting, 6,000 water jugs, and 6,000 wool blankets from stockpiles through a DOD-funded aircraft to shelter 2,000 families.
USAID/OFDA Grant to Airserv for support to rescue operations and air transport.
USAID/OFDA Additional support for search and rescue and emergency relief operations
USAID/OFDA Local procurement of emergency food aid (through WFP)
USAID/OFDA Procurement and shipping of WHO emergency health kits
USAID/OFDA Additional support for emergency relief operation
USAID/OFDA Procurement and shipping of WHO emergency health kits
USAID/FFP Emergency food relief
DOD Transportation and provision of relief commodities
Zimbabwe USAID/OFDA Grant to Zimbabwe Red Cross for emergency supplies
Madagascar USAID/OFDA Grant to CRS to assist flooded areas
Botswana USAID/OFDA Procurement of emergency sanitation systems
South Africa USAID/OFDA Grant to South African Red Cross for emergency supplies
Total DOD
*Note: A Presidential Drawdown Authority of up to $37.6 million has been authorized.

Regional Background

Higher than average rainfall, coupled with four consecutive days of torrential rains in early February caused severe flooding in several countries in the southern African region. Reports indicate that this is the worst flooding in the region in several decades.

Cyclone Leon-Eline passed through the southern Africa region over the week of February 20-26, bringing additional heavy rains and wind to already-affected areas. In early March, Tropical Depression Gloria crossed through Madagascar and drifted slowly westward through Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, northern Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia, wreaking more havoc.

About 2 million people have been affected in the southern Africa region due to the flooding. The number of deaths in the region, now estimated at 800, is expected to increase once assessments are completed.

Damage from the floods is extensive, isolating many areas and displacing populations in Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Public Donation Information

In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage concerned citizens to provide monetary donations to appropriate organizations. To find out about contributions, USAID encourages the public to access its web site at or to contact its Humanitarian Hotline at 1-800-USAID-Relief between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The public can also directly contact those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. Additionally, the public can contact InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas, via their web site ( Those interested in providing specific technical services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA) Disaster Information Center for information and guidelines at (703) 276-1914.