Botswana + 1 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #2, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000


Rains and flooding continue in parts of Mozambique, Botswana, and South Africa, with Mozambique being the most severely affected country. Numerous rivers in the region have overflowed their banks, and many roads, bridges, and railways connecting the countries have been flooded or washed away.

Several hundred thousand people have been affected throughout the region.

The situation is exacerbated by Tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline, which is currently battering the central East Coast of Madagascar, but is predicted to move toward flood-affected areas of southern Mozambique over the weekend. This storm system is producing heavy rains, 90-mph winds, and waves 26 feet high.

Mozambique was the first country to declare a disaster on February 7, with Botswana following on February 16 and South Africa on February 17.


Weather: Maputo, Inhambane, and Gaza Provinces are still experiencing significant rainfall and conditions have particularly worsened in Gaza Province. Additionally, the rains could continue or even increase due to the cyclone passing over Madagascar.

Releases of excess water from overflowing dams in neighboring countries is still causing rivers to swell and flooding surrounding areas, particularly the Limpopo valley.

Humanitarian Situation: A total of 48 people have been reported dead or missing, and 298,000 are reportedly displaced throughout the country. The number of deaths could increase once assessments have been conducted in isolated rural areas that have lost means of communication.

Health: Several NGOs working in the country indicate that existing staff and supplies are sufficient to treat current levels of cholera, malaria, and measles, and the needs for potable water are currently being met. Additionally, the Ministry of Health (MOH) estimates that 80% of the population is vaccinated against measles.

The most pressing problem identified by these NGOs is lack of access to isolated populations located in flooded rural areas.

Food: The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) and Mozambique's National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) estimate that over 218,000 people may need short-term food assistance. Additional people may need food assistance in the future because of losses to their crops. WFP plans to issue an appeal for $3 million to provide direct food aid for three months to the affected populations.

The Government of Mozambique (GRM) is encouraging the procurement of food locally whenever possible since Mozambique had a strong harvest last year and good production levels in areas not affected by the floods.

Infrastructure: The main road to South Africa remains closed, but an alternate route is still providing access for commercial traffic 12 hours each day. The road to Swaziland is still unaffected, but the main North-South highway through the country remains impassable.

The railways to Zimbabwe and South Africa are still flooded. The target date to reopen the route through Ressano Garcia to South Africa is February 29, but a prolonged period of closure could adversely affect the economy due to losses in shipments of steel and chrome from Zimbabwe and citrus and coal from South Africa.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Response: In response to U.S. Ambassador Curran's February 7 disaster declaration, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an immediate $25,000 through USAID/Mozambique to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for emergency relief activities.

Additionally, USAID/BHR/OFDA deployed a two-person team comprised of its Regional Advisor for Southern Africa and a Technical Advisor from USAID/W to work with USAID/ Mozambique on needs assessment and recommendations for USAID response.

On February 17, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an additional $450,000 through USAID/Mozambique as a grant to WFP for the provision of additional relief commodities and logistical support. The sum of $300,000 will be used for procurement of sandbags, shovels, wheelbarrows, and cooking sets that will be distributed to displaced populations. Another $100,000 will support an airbridge for the delivery of non-food items to populations isolated from relief through other types of transport. The final $50,000 will cover the costs of assessment flights to outer-lying affected areas.

In collaboration with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USAID/BHR/OFDA has also created a web site that provides weather forecast information and satellite imagery for use by the Mozambican Meteorological Institute. This web site is located at

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Response: In response to a request by the U.S. Embassy, DOD deployed a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) on February 17 to Mozambique and South Africa. This team is comprised of various technical specialists that will conduct an on-site assessment to determine what types of assets or activities would be most appropriate for a DOD response to the situation. In working with the rest of the humanitarian community, the team also will ascertain the best way to incorporate DOD resources into current response efforts.

Local Response: On February 10, the GRM issued an appeal for $2.7 million in humanitarian assistance for Maputo Province, and an additional $15 million for anti-erosion activities. The GRM will also reportedly issue an updated appeal on February 21, but will continue to provide special customs clearance for all humanitarian supplies, even if not listed in the revised appeal.

In its first all-donor briefing on February 15, the GRM's disaster response coordinating body, INGC, announced the formation of a flood response coordination cell within the INGC. This cell will include technical working groups in the areas of food assistance; water and sanitation; health; transport, customs clearance, and communications; shelter/accommodation centers; infrastructure; and processing, analysis, and information updates. These groups will meet twice each week in addition to the daily INGC all-donor briefings. The international community strongly supports the INGC's establishment of this special response cell.

The MOH is providing health alerts and educational programs on cholera and other water-related diseases via radio and pamphlets. The MOH has also been actively working with NGOs to provide information and coordinate assistance efforts.

At least one GRM Military helicopter is operating for rescue and distribution of tents, boats, food and medicines. The government has also provided rice to flood victims.

International Response: In addition to the contributions of the international community previously mentioned in Fact Sheet #1 "Southern Africa - Floods"(dated February 16, 2000), several additional donations have been provided.

The four South African military helicopters available through February 20 are continuing their rescue and distribution missions.

The UNDAC team is working closely with the INGC to manage the international community response to the disaster.

The Government of Italy is providing $200,000 through OCHA for the procurement and transport of both food and non-food supplies.

The Government of Portugal has provided $150,000 for equipment.

The Government of Switzerland (GOS) has allotted $330,000 to the MOH, UNICEF, and WFP for health-related initiatives. The GOS is also funding $80,000 in relief activities for rural displaced populations.

In addition to its initial $400,000, the Government of Denmark will donate $35,000 to WFP and the Mozambican Red Cross and between $800,000 and $1 million to the Mozambican Electric Utility for restoration of power systems.


Rains have fallen continuously in Botswana since February 10, exacerbating the current flooding situation. According to OCHA, the east and southern parts of the country, where two-thirds of the population is located, have been most affected, including the overflow of four dams.

OCHA also reports an estimated 60,000 people affected with approximately 34,350 in need of immediate relief. Damages to crops have contributed to food aid needs. Additionally, substantial damage to infrastructure such as roads and bridges has been sustained.

Botswana's national emergency services provided a list of specific needs that is published in OCHA's third situation report.

In response to the February 16 formal appeal by the Government of Botswana for international assistance for flood victims, the U.S. Ambassador to Botswana declared a disaster on the same day. USAID/BHR/OFDA plans to respond as soon as enough information becomes available to ensure an appropriate response.

The Government of Germany has provided $105,000 in family tents and blankets.

South Africa

Due to extensive flooding in the northeastern parts of South Africa and the resulting displacement of several small but isolated populations, U.S. Ambassador Lewis declared a disaster in these flood-affected areas on February 17.

In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an initial $25,000 through USAID/South Africa to the South African Red Cross for the supply of blankets, food, and other relief items to 3,000 displaced persons in the Northern and Mpumalanga Provinces.

The affected populations in these provinces are currently seeking shelter in churches, schools, and other public buildings.

The Government of South Africa (RSA) is continuously conducting its own considerably effective efforts in response to the most critical needs, such as rescue operations and air transport and distribution of emergency supplies. However, the RSA has also expressed its appreciation to the U.S. Embassy for USG assistance in filling localized gaps.

The U.S. Mission remains in contact with the local and provincial authorities as well as the RSA's coordinating body, the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) to determine any additional needs or required assistance. The RSA is currently conducting assessments in the worst affected areas that should provide additional information shortly.

Taiwan and Germany have also provided assistance in the affected areas.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)


Regional Background

Higher than average rainfall for the season, coupled with four days of torrential downpours in part resulting from Cyclone Connie, have caused severe flooding in several countries in the southern African region. Several of the countries are stating that this is the worst flooding they have experienced in several decades.

Damage from the floods is extensive, isolating many areas and displacing large populations in several countries.

Rains continue throughout the region at varying levels, and a cyclone currently hitting parts of Madagascar is causing concern over potential further damage and loss of life.

Public Donation Information

In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage concerned citizens to provide monetary donations to appropriate organizations. USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. A list of relevant PVOs may be obtained from the USAID web site ( The list is composed of PVOs that are registered with USAID and/or listed by InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas. InterAction can be contacted at 1-818-502-4288, or 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.