Botswana + 3 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #17, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Regional Overview

The regional forecasts now predict showers rather than heavy rains in the next few days. Through March 25, continued rains are forecast in Maputo and Gaza provinces, as well as in the central and northern parts of Mozambique. A cold front passing through Maputo could bring showers on March 17 and 18.

In the past 24 hours, 74 mm of rainfall was recorded in Save town. The Save river is above flood level, and flooding has been reported in low-lying areas.


Floodwaters: In the past 24 hours, the following levels of rainfall were reported:

Mavalane 58.0 mm
Changalane 41.2 mm
Maputo city 40.6 mm
Pemba 37.7 mm
Total 177.5 mm

According to USAID/DART field officer in Beira and reports from Food for the Hungry International (FHI), the water level of the Buzi river has risen over the past two days and the town of Buzi is now under water again. The local government is recommending that the most vulnerable population be moved to a nearby location in Guaraguara. The Government of Mozambique (GRM) plans to move 200 families on March 17 and 500 families in total over the next few days.

USAID/DART field officer in Beira and FHI are reporting that there is tremendous concern about Chicamba dam, located on the Buzi river in Manica province. Water is approaching the top of the dam and threatens to overflow it.

GRM officials visited the dam March 17 and determined that water needed to be released to avoid a potential structural failure. Beginning March 17, the Chicamba dam will discharge at a rate of 428 cubic meters per second. This will potentially affect low-level zones in the flood plain, as well as Sussundega, Goonda, and Buzi towns.

The GRM has warned of possible flooding in Tete, Manica, Sofala, and Zambezia provinces, all located downstream from the Caborra Bassa dam, as a result of continued heavy rains.

According to USAID/DART, there has been a one-meter increase in the Incomati river in the past 24 hours. The water levels of the Limpopo, Pungue, Save, and Zambezi rivers are still decreasing. However, the Limpopo river is still categorized as above flood stage.

Previous forecasts of heavy rains for Inhambane and Gaza provinces have been revised. The outlook for the next 28-72 hours is now more favorable to ongoing relief effort.

According to FHI, the UN World Food Program (WFP) has reported that flooding is beginning along the Gorongosa river in Machanga district. The water level, which began rising March 16, has reportedly left some 5,000 people stranded on small islands and destroyed crops.

In northern Mozambique, the town of Mocimboa da Praia at the mouth of the Messalo river has been inundated due to increased rainfall in the region. The Messalo river is considered easy to monitor because no dams release water into the river and it is only affected by rainfall in Mozambique.

The rainy season in Mozambique typically lasts through the end of March. However, in the northern regions of Mozambique, it runs through mid-April.

Shelter: According to USAID/Maputo, the GRM reportedly is in need of tents for families evacuated from Buzi town. The GRM also requires tents for an emergency hospital it intends to establish in evacuation sites in Guaraguara.

Health: USAID/Maputo staff continue rapid assessments of accommodation centers with visits to six centers in the Matola city area recently. In all of these centers, health aides are working daily, but medicines are insufficient. All centers reported daily occurrences of malaria and acute diarrheal diseases. Three of the six centers visited had no water supply, and one of those also had no latrines at all.

The GRM’s Ministry of Health (MOH) recently reported that it has received medicines for malaria and diarrhea. There is an increase in trauma cases and a need for more supplies. (The MOH has not provided details on exact quantities needed.)

According to FHI, the MOH is finishing assessments of health posts in Buzi, Machanga, and Chibabava. FHI reports that common needs revealed by the assessments include water treatment, food, medications, and vaccines. The MOH reportedly plans to send in the necessary supplies and is also planning to train health workers in water/sanitation education. FHI reports that there will be a need for rehabilitation and reconstruction of health posts in most of the assessed areas.

On March 16, FHI reported that International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) staff arrived in country last week with supplies and have been visiting flood-affected areas in Buzi and Machanga. IFRC has reportedly provided tents to several non-governmental organization (NGOs) in the area. IFRC activities include the distribution of food and non-food relief items, including seeds and tools.

On March 15, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) announced a $50,000 grant to the MOH for programs against malaria and cholera in flood affected areas during the next three months. The total cost of the program is $177,000.

On March 13, the Israeli government announced it would like to contribute assistance for emergency relief in the water/sanitaiton sector.

Food and Agriculture: According to recent USAID/Maputo rapid assessment, food availability varies among the different accommodation centers in Matola. USAID/Maputo reports that WFP has stepped up delivery of food supplies in these centers, as well as centers in Machava and Maputo.

On March 16, WFP delivered 78 MT of food to Gaza, Maputo, and Sofala. This quantity is enough to provide 131,300 daily rations.

USAID/Maputo reports that WFP is locally purchasing 5,500 MT of maize, 200 MT of beans, and 40 MT of salt under its emergency operation (EMOP). WFP announced that maize flour will be delivered to accommodation centers where milling is problematic. WFP is now targeting pregnant and lactating women and children under five among the displaced populations for distribution of high-energy biscuits. WFP is also distributing basic cooking kits.

More than 2,802 MT of food have been distributed since the beginning of the relief operation. Food deliveries were reduced on March 16 due to bad weather and road conditions.

FHI reports that water is reaching WFP food warehouses in Buzi. WFP reports that the food should be safe for the next three or four days.

Technical teams continue crop loss assessments in Gaza and Inhambane provinces. The teams will also provide a report on private agriculture sector losses and recovery needs.

Transport/Logistics: UN-Joint Logistics Operations Center (JLOC) reported March 17 that there are 16 fixed wing aircraft in Maputo and 37 rotary aircraft. 17 of the total aircraft are located in Beira.

On March 16, combined air operations flew 157.6 MT of relief supplies and 290 passengers from Maputo. In Beira, combined air operations flew 125 MT of relief supplies and 20 passengers.

Due to heavy rainfall over the past few days, the airport in Chibuto was not open for operations. Therefore, the German C-160s were unable to make any deliveries to Chibuto. If the airport does not reopen soon, the JLOC will look into transporting supplies to Chibuto via helicopter.

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 internally displaced persons (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.

The Joint Task Force Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC), which is coordinating with UN Development Program, UNICEF, WFP, and the GRM’s National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), has informed USAID/DART that affected population data and accommodation center locations will now be updated on a twice-weekly basis. USAID/DART is expecting new figures by March 18.

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.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Search and Rescue (SAR) component of the USAID/DART (Miami-Dade) departed Maputo on March 17 and are expected to arrive in the US by March 19.

The search-and-rescue phase of the emergency response is over. USAID/DART’s primary focus now is assessing the short-term relief and rehabilitation needs in the region and reviewing proposals from NGOs.

On March 16, U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dean Curran, accompanied by the USAID/Maputo Mission Director and USAID/DART Team Leader, traveled to Beira to thank the SAR team for its contribution to the USG flood response. The group then attended a ceremony in which SAR boats and equipment were handed over to FHI and Médecins du Monde (MDM).

On March 16, USAID-funded Air Serv transported 98 passengers, and nine MT of food and non-food relief items throughout Mozambique.

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

The U.S. Commander of the Joint Task Force - Atlas Response (COMJTF-AR) toured Beira with Ambassador Curran. The group also visited the Air Operations Center and the CMOC in Beira with representatives from NGOs and international organizations (IOs). Coordination among all military forces and the NGOs and IOs remains excellent.

The COMJTF-AR is focusing on continued blanket and food distribution to people affected in remote areas.

On March 15, U.S. Military flights carried 42MT of relief supplies and 12 passengers.

Local Response:

On March 16, the UN Special Humanitarian Envoy to Mozambique reportedly praised the rapid international response to the disaster in Mozambique, as well as the GRM’s ongoing efforts.

International Response:

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

The Canadian government has earmarked $8.1 million for Mozambique post-disaster assistance, including emergency landmine removal. Some of the funds are being distributed through the UN and NGOs.

A British naval ship is stationed along the Gorongosa river in Machanga district. The ship is equipped with helicopters and relief supplies. An assessment mission from the ship is planned for March 17.


An official from the USAID/Office of Food for Peace (FFP) is in the field condcuting assessments, in collaboration with USAID/Harare.

According to the 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.


The USAID/DART field officer reports that after initial assessment of the Fianarantsoa province (Faritany), the immediate need is road clearing to assist delivery of food and other relief commodities.

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

The Government of Madagascar’s (GOM) National Disaster Unit (CNS) reports that 11,242 residents of Vatomandry are homeless. WFP has provided 92 MT to affected populations thus far.

Local authorities report that 20-50% of the staple rice crop has been destroyed in Madagascar. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP plan to verify the reports.

On March 16, a French Air Force Cargo plane reportedly airdropped several seven-ton shipments of rice, beans, and sugar, provided by WFP, to the isolated resort town of Vatomandry. Several additional deliveries are expected.

The GOM has reported that some 200 people have died as a result of the storms. The USAID/OFDA field officer reports that 400,000 have been affected in Madagascar.


USAID/DART field officers will report on March 17 their findings from assessments in affected regions in Botswana.

According to the Government of Botswana’s National Disaster Committee, the northeastern part of Botswana was severely affected. The flooding affected 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):

*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, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa.

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.