Botswana + 1 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #3, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000


Cyclone Leon-Eline hit the east coast of Madagascar on February 17 and, according to OCHA reports, crossed through the country approximately 80 km north of Antananarivo before heading toward Mozambique. Leon-Eline came ashore with strong winds and 100 mph gusts near the southern Mozambican town, Vilanculos, and then headed in a western direction across several provinces to hit southern Zimbabwe on February 23. Although the storm has decreased in intensity, it is still producing significant rains and some reported wind damage, primarily to roofs.

The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) has indicated that the worst-affected areas are those along the eastern and southeastern borders with Mozambique and South Africa. The GOZ is evacuating victims from impacted areas using trucks and helicopters.

The rains associated with the cyclone are in addition to rainfall during the months of January and February that has already produced the worst flooding experienced in the region in decades. Several hundred thousand people have been affected throughout southern Africa by floodwaters.

Mozambique was the first country to declare a disaster on February 7, with Botswana following on February 16 and South Africa on February 17. Preliminary reports indicate that Zimbabwe may also declare a disaster once damage assessments become available.


Effects from Cyclone Leon-Eline: Cyclone Leon-Eline traveled through the provinces of Inhambane, Sofala, Gaza, and Manica on February 22-23, bringing periodic heavy rainfall and high winds. The main cities affected were Beira and Inhambane. In Beira, electricity and telephone services were disrupted, and the port remains closed due to the sinking of a freighter. The airport was temporarily closed, but has already reopened with normal service.

In Inhambane Province, the rain exacerbated an already chronic erosion problem and the ferry service to Inhambane was halted. The rural hospital in Vilanculos was without power as of February 22.

The National Road 1 that is used to deliver relief supplies to Gaza Province from Inhambane and Beira was cut off just north of Xai-Xai.

Situation in Southern Flood-Stricken Areas: Continuing releases of excess water from dams in South Africa and Zimbabwe are adding to the flooding in the Limpopo valley and the city of Xai-Xai. However, water levels in many other flood-affected areas are beginning to recede.

OCHA reports an estimated 70 people dead or missing from this month's flooding, but the number of people affected is still reported to be 298,000. These numbers could rise since certain isolated areas remain inaccessible to ground assessment teams.

On February 18, IFRC reported that a boat carrying Red Cross volunteers and local government officials in Gaza Province overturned, resulting in eight deaths.

Potential outbreaks of cholera, meningitis, measles, and malaria remain a concern, primarily due to limited access to potable water and sanitary conditions by displaced populations. WHO reports an estimated 800,000 are potentially at risk for such diseases. However, the GRM and international community are still reporting sufficient stocks of pharmaceuticals, potable water, and adequate staff to handle current case levels.

Water systems in most cities are functioning, but access to such systems by displaced populations remains an issue. Contamination of water supply in peri-urban and rural areas is a problem due to raw sewage from flooded latrines, mud, and silt in wells and water sources. The GRM plans to focus on distribution of clean water in its first phase of operations, and cleaning of water sources in the second phase. Reports indicate that supplies of chlorine and equipment are adequate to treat contaminated water sources and sanitize salvageable wells.

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.

The condition of infrastructure has not significantly changed. Many roads remain impassable and some main railways are still closed. In its revised appeal, the GRM estimates the cost of repairs to roads and bridges at $30.5 million, plus an additional $5.95 million in repairs to railways. Additional estimates of rehabilitation costs are $4.6 million for hydraulic structures, $950,000 for flood control measures, $4.5 million for electrical systems, and $3.5 million for resettlement programs.

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. The Regional Advisor has redeployed to her home base of Nairobi, but the Technical Advisor is still in Maputo to continue assessments and coordination of response activities.

On February 17, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an additional $450,000 through USAID/Mozambique as a grant to WFP for the provision of relief commodities and logistical support.

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 are currently conducting assessments and meeting with the relief community in both countries to determine any needs that might be addressed through DOD resources.

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.

On February 23, U.N. agencies and the GRM jointly issued a consolidated appeal for $13.6 million for emergency relief and rehabilitation activities for a six-month period. The appeal includes funding requirements for activities in the areas of food, shelter, health, water/sanitation, agriculture, education, and communication. Donors have already contributed $1,395,500 toward this appeal.

The technical working groups within INGC's flood response coordination cell have begun coordination meetings. These working groups were organized for food assistance, water and sanitation, health, transport, customs clearance, and communications, shelter, and infrastructure.

International Response: Most contributions of the international community to date have been previously reported in Fact Sheets #1 and 2 "Southern Africa - Floods"(dated February 16 and 18 respectively).

The availability of the South African rotor and fixed-wing aircraft has been extended for use in Mozambique to February 25. The South African Government is reporting the rescue of 2,880 people with these aircraft to date.

OCHA reports that the Government of Norway has provided $100,000 to UNICEF in addition to relief supplies for affected populations.

OCHA has also indicated that the Government of Spain has donated approximately $240,000 to the Spanish and Mozambican Red Cross organizations.


Forecasts call for substantial rains on February 24 and 25 in the eastern and central parts of Botswana due to Cyclone Leon-Eline. OCHA reports that the Government of Botswana has taken precautionary measures such as the evacuation of people living in low-lying, vulnerable areas.

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.

The primary needs identified by the Government of Botswana are sanitation facilities, temporary shelter, and water purification units.

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 has provided $25,000 through USAID/Botswana to the Botswana National Disaster Management Office for procurement of emergency supplies for displaced populations.

South Africa

Due to extensive flooding in the northeastern parts of South Africa and the resulting displacement of several 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 blankets, food, and other relief items to 3,000 displaced persons in the Northern and Mpumalanga Provinces.

Several members of the HAST traveled to Pretoria on February 23 to meet with South African and USG officials and the international relief community to discuss current relief activities.

The Government of South Africa (RSA) is continuing its own assessment and relief efforts in response to the most critical needs. However, the RSA has also expressed its appreciation to the U.S. Embassy for USG assistance in filling localized gaps.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

(est.) $50,000

Regional Background

Higher than average rainfall coupled with 4 days of torrential rains from February 4-7 have 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.

Damage from the floods is extensive, isolating many areas and displacing populations in Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, and Madagascar. Access to safe water and sanitary conditions and threat of water-borne diseases in displaced populations is the main concern voiced by the various affected countries.

The situation has been exacerbated in certain areas from the affects from Cyclone Leon-Eline, which is currently hitting southern Zimbabwe.

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. InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas, can be contacted 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.