Botswana + 3 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #16, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Regional Overview

Scattered thunderstorms are being reported from western Botswana into central Zambia and Tanzania. Zambia, Malawi, and the northern regions of Zimbabwe are also receiving rain. Flooding brought on by heavy rains in Malawi’s southern Chikwawa district has displaced at least 1,500 people.

Concerns have increased that intensified rain in neighboring countries and the potential that runoff and dam reservoir discharges may cause rising levels in the major Mozambican river systems. However, the water levels of most rivers have been slightly decreasing in Mozambique.

The U.S. Air Force reports that Mozambique and Madagascar can expect cloudy skies and rain for the next three days. Heavy rains are predicted for Inhambane and Gaza provinces but the situation is now predicted to improve. A cold front predicted for Maputo province from March 17 - 19 might still bring showers, but not heavy rain. Likewise, showers are predicted for neighboring countries, but not heavy rain.


Floodwaters: The Incomati river basin has registered a water level decrease since March 15. The Limpopo river has decreased as well, although a slight increase in the level measure at Combomune might slightly affect Chokwe and Xai Xai.

The Pungue river is still on alert but levels have decreased since March 15. On the Zambezi river, a water level decrease has been registered in Caia.

In the past 24 hours, 7.4 cm of rainfall was reported in Save province. Save and Buzi rivers are considered to be at flood level. Populations in the Buzi river basin’s low zones are already seeking shelter in schools and hospitals.

Water discharges are forecast next week for Chicamba dam in Tete province, which could aggravate the Buzi river situation. Rains are provoking flooding in the area of Cabora Bassa dam in Manhica province.

Shelter: The Government of Mozambqiue’s (GRM) National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) reported on March 15 that there are eight centers in the city of Xai Xai with a total population of 5,025.

The INGC remains concerned about isolated populations in flood affected areas. The INGC is also concerned about the widely-varying figures being reported on the total number of accommodation centers and affected persons.

Recent reports have noted rapidly rising numbers of IDPs in accommodation centers. (WFP is now using a working number of 102 centers and 423,406 beneficiaries). USAID/Maputo attributes part of this apparent increase to improved information coming from the centers. Populations are also shifting in and out of the centers.

According to CARE, the recent heavy rainfall in Sofala province is causing problems with accommodation centers in Machanga district.

USAID/Maputo reports the Mambulo accommodation center in Inhambane province is being effectively self-managed. This center is a normal migration point for flood-displaced populations during the annual flooding period.

Rapid assessments conducted by USAID staff in centers in and around Maputo city suggest that most internally displaced persons (IDPs) want to go home as quickly as possible.

On March 15, the USAID/DART health team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a visit to the Cede accommodation center in Macia district of Gaza province. The team reported that the center’s population has risen from 4,000 to 6,000. The team observed many people living without tents.

Health: In Macia district, the health team visited one of three health posts serving four accommodation centers. On March 10, the post treated 110 patients, 55% of which had malaria. About 6% of the patients treated that day had diarrheal disease.

In Chiacalane, the USAID/DART health team visited a clinic that treats between 500-600 patients per day. Since the accommodation center opened on February 27, 9,362 patients have been treated. Of this amount, 5,528 (59%) had malaria. Five people have died in the center since February 27, mostly due to malaria and dehydration.

The health team also met with Chokwe district officials who identified several isolated communities in Gaza. Most of the people living in these communities are reportedly without shelter. Accommodation centers in Chokwe are hosting about 57,000 IDPs.

According to USAID/DART, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF)/Switzerland (SW) plans to support health and nutrition activities in Chokwe, Chiacalane, Maputo city, and Matola city, in collaboration with the GRM’s Ministry of Health (MOH). The Matola city health clinic is already open.

In Chokwe, MSF/SW reported an average of 10 cases of malnutrition per day. (Exact rates of malnutrition are not yet available). Forty percent of these cases reportedly had kwashiorkor.

World Vision reportedly plans to dispatch drugs to Gaza, in coordination with the MOH’s pharmaceuticals department.

The MOH is concerned about existing health and sanitation conditions in five accommodation centers in Maputo City. In all centers, the supply of food, latrines, and hygiene materials is reportedly inadequate. The MOH also reported that the current locations of some accommodation centers in Maputo were poor due to soil and water level conditions. The MOH is considering relocation of IDPs in these centers to a newly-identified location and has requested some assistance in this effort.

Water/Sanitation: The INGC reports that one in three water wells in the southern town of Chokwe is now operational. Concerns remain about the water supply in Chokwe.

Coordination among aid agencies in the water/sanitation sector reportedly remains poor. As of March 15, 19 NGOs have been registered by the MOH.

According to USAID/DART, CARE, Association of Churches Working Together (ACT), Action Aid, OXFAM, and the Spanish Red Cross are implementing various water/sanitation activities in Mozambique, including Moamba, Manhica, Chokwe, and Chiacalane.

USAID/DART reports UNICEF’s health education department expects to begin a hygiene and sanitation campaign in 11 accommodation centers in Macia and Mahnica districts from March 18 – 25. The campaign will encompass leaflet distributions, posters, radio campaigns, and other outreach activities and will be implemented with the MOH.

Food and Agriculture: On March 15, the UN World Food Program (WFP) launched an appeal for $34 million to finance emergency food rations, as well as the cost of food-for-work projects. The request raises the total funding required for Mozambique to $45.2 million to cover the food needs of 650,000 people until a second harvest due in mid-August.

The new appeal includes $5.3 million to guarantee the continued use of South African National Defense Force helicopters for food aid transport, as well the rehabilitation of key roads and railways.

Food needs assessments continue at the various IDP locations. WFP reports 20 food aid monitors are coordinating the distribution of emergency food rations in accommodation centers in Mozambique.

Transport/logistics: On March 15, WFP delivered 221 MT of food to Gaza, Maputo, and Sofala provinces. Of this total, 163 MT were transported by boat from Beira to Machanga and Buzi.

More than 2,600 MT of food have been distributed since the beginning of relief operations. Almost 50% were distributed by air.

WFP food trucks are reportedly able to make the three-hour journey from Palmeiras to temporary camps at Macia and Chiacalane.

The main road between Biera and Save is expected to remain impassable for 8-10 days. However, WFP officials report that 109 tons of food aid have been pre-positioned in Save and will be sufficient for 8-10 days.

WFP reportedly plans to support the renovation of 1,050 km of highway in central and southern Mozambique through a special operation. WFP also plans to initiate food-for work programs for the reconstruction of schools and shops and rebuilding of railways and roads, as well as planting of new crops.

WFP reports that there are now 59 aircraft (helicopters and fixed wing aircraft) currently working for the relief operation in Mozambique. 109 boats are deployed throughout the country.

Telecommunication links in flood-stricken areas are improving. Radio and electronic-mail communications are now being established between loading/stocking areas and IDP centers.

Affected Numbers: The GRM estimates 1.2 million people have been affected by flooding. Of the total figure, about 330,000 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. (About 900,000 people are also indirectly affected, according to the GRM.) 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

To date, USAID has provided $13,652,000 in response to the flood crisis in southern Africa. On March 16, USAID/OFDA provided $813,000 to CARE and World Relief to support distribution of locally-purchased seed and tools. The funds will assist more than 160,000 individuals in flood affected areas in Gaza province and northern Inhambane province.

The seeds and tools intervention is expected to allow beneficiary families to take advantage of the late March/early April planting season and reduce the potential need for food aid.

Five additional technical experts (health and water/sanitation) will be arriving in Maputo on March 18 to assist the USAID/DART in further assessments.

The USAID/OFDA Search and Rescue (SAR) team (Miami-Dade) is currently demobilizing due to diminished boat transport needs and improved road access. Upon departure, the team plans to loan several inflatable boats and vehicles to Food for the Hungry (FHI). The SAR team will also donate a large 30x17-foot tent and two water-cooled generators to Medecins du Monde (MDM). These supplies will be used as an interim hospital in Beira, to replace one that was damaged by the cyclone earlier this month.

The SAR conducted equipment training for FHI staff on March 13 - 14. The donated boats and equipment will be turned over to USAID/Maputo. The mission will then provide these items to FHI and MDM.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) component of the USAID/DART continues to facilitate the orderly transfer of responsibilities to the Joint Operations Logistics Center (JLOC). As of March 13, the USCG has facilitated the transfer of over 400 MT of relief supplies and transportation for some 500 passengers.

On March 15, the USCG briefed US Ambassador to Mozambique Brian D. Curran and Joint Task Force Commander on its transition plan. The USCG component of the USAID/DART has successfully concluded its operations and will depart Mozambique March 17.

Between March 5-12, USAID-funded AIRSERV transported 11,450 kg of humanitarian supplies and rescued 37 people by boat. The boats operated in Buzi and Chalara covered 1,350 km. Most of the transported goods were medical supplies, shelter materiel, and water purification equipment.

On March 15, the USAID/Famine Early Warning Systems regional representative departed Mozambique. The representative assisted USAID/Mozambique with geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping products. WFP’s Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping (VAM) unit played a leading role in the coordination of GIS and mapping information, along with USAID/FEWS, USAID/DART, USGS, and other agencies.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Response:

The Commander of Joint Task Force (COMJTF) Atlas Response met with Ambassador Curran on March 15 to discuss ongoing U.S. Military participation. Discussions will continue on the effectiveness of supply distribution, as well as next steps required.

On March 18, the COMJTF will fly to Pretoria, South Africa, and meet with the U.S. country team and other high-level South African military officials to thank them for their support in the relief efforts.

Local Response:

The GRM has announced that a third emergency appeal will be issued next week. The appeal will still be focused on immediate needs.

In response to a GRM request, some donors including the UN, the European Union, and the US, are working with the GRM to prepare a two-day conference on post disaster assistance for Mozambique. The conference is tentatively scheduled for late April and may be held in Italy.

International Response:

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

The total number of foreign aid workers in Mozambique now totals 2,400. About half of this figure are military personnel.


Malaria is reportedly on the increase in hard-hit areas in Zimbabwe, including Matibi, Crooks Corner, Sengwe and Malipati in Chiredzi District. Health issues are of increasing concern.

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, mostly in the provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, Matebeleland South, and Midlands, located in southern and eastern Zimbabawe.


A USAID/DART field officer from the USAID/OFDA regional office in Nairobi is currently conducting a two-day assessment trip to the eastern side of Madagascar to assess remote areas that were affected by flooding. The field officer is conducting the assessment with a team from Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

USAID/OFDA has deployed a water/sanitation expert to Madagascar on March 18 to assist in further assessments.

A USAID-funded assessment team (from Landscape Development Interventions) is examining the railroad line between Fianarantsoa and Manakara to conduct a damage survey. Continued closure of the railroad between these two southeastern towns remains a major concern for the livelihoods of the population in that area.

The United States has invested significant resources in the railway (over $1.5 million) and roads in the corridor, which is also a sensitive environmental area.

USAID/OFDA is currently reviewing several proposals to address the emergency food and health needs of the affected communities.

The United Nations is reportedly shifting its operation from an acute emergency phase to rebuilding and rehabilitation.

Landslides have reported stranded 75,000 people, according to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), and prevented further missions. The Government of Madagascar has reported that some 200 people have died as a result of the storms. The USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor reports that 400,000 have been affected in Madagascar.

The National Disaster Unit (CNS) will provide revised figures by categories of those affected by the storm after the return of the assessment teams from the northeast on March 16.


A technical expert from USAID/DART is currently assessing the water and health situation in affected regions in Botswana.

According to the Government of Botswana’s National Disaster Committee, the northeastern part of Botswana was the worst affected area. The flooding affected an estimated 73,000 people and damaged secondary roads.

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)

USG Agency
Activities Funded
Medecins Sans Frontieres for emergency relief activities
Grant to WFP for the provision of relief commodities and logistical support.
Grant to Save the Children/U.S. for emergency health initiatives in Gaza province, for approximately 55,000 beneficiaries.
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.
Grant to Airserv for support to rescue operations and air transport.
Additional support for search and rescue and emergency relief operations
Local procurement of emergency food aid (through WFP)
Procurement and shipping of WHO emergency health kits
Additional technical support for USAID/DART operations
Procurement and shipping of WHO emergency health kits
Grant to CARE for seeds and tools program targeting 7,380 families in northern Inhambane province
Grant to World Relief for seeds and tools program targeting 26,260 families in Gaza province
Emergency food relief
Transportation and provision of relief commodities
Grant to Zimbabwe Red Cross for emergency supplies
Grant to CRS to assist flooded areas
Procurement of emergency sanitation systems
South Africa
Grant to South African Red Cross for emergency supplies
USAID/OFDA subtotal
USAID/FFP subtotal
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, causing additional flooding.

About 2 million people have been affected in the southern Africa region due to the flooding. The number of deaths in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe is now estimated at 800. This figure 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.