Botswana + 3 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #4, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Regional Overview

Intermittent rainfall is plaguing parts of Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The continuing wet weather is adding to the severe flooding that began in the first week of February with Cyclone Connie and worsened considerably last week with the heavy rains and wind from Cyclone Leon-Eline.

Newswire reports indicate that numbers of affected people in the region could be approaching 900,000. Assessments in several countries are ongoing, and the current death toll in the region of several hundred people is likely to rise rapidly once humanitarian workers are able to reach isolated areas.

Mozambique was the first country to declare a disaster on February 7, with Botswana following on February 16 and South Africa on February 17. Current information suggests that the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe will probably declare a disaster on or about February 29.


Newswire services report that water levels peaked in most areas late on Sunday, February 27, and that intermittent showers were falling in various regions as of Monday, February 28.

A team of relief workers, including U.S. disaster specialists from USAID and DOD, conducted aerial assessments on Saturday, February 26 of the Limpopo and Save River valleys, the port city of Beira, and the town of Buzi. The team observed thousands of people stranded on small patches of land with no access to shelter or food. These populations are estimated to have been stranded for the past 4-6 days.

Water levels of the Limpopo, Save, and Zambezi Rivers are currently reported as stable. However, water releases from dams in neighboring countries are still a problem, particularly excess water from the Kariba Dam in Zambia flowing down the Zambezi River. The water level in Chokwe District (Gaza Province) rose approximately two meters around 02:00 a.m. on February 27. The towns of Machanga and Mambone (at the mouth of the Save River) were devastated by high water.

The Government of Mozambique (GRM) has confirmed 150 deaths, but the death toll will most likely rise much higher once assessments can be completed. Although official reports of numbers affected remain at 300,000, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) is reporting estimates of 528,000 affected, with the largest number located in Gaza Province.

WHO reports an estimated 800,000 are potentially at risk for water-borne diseases such as cholera, malaria, and meningitis. In its appeal, the U.N. reported that cases of cholera have been confirmed in Maputo and Sofala Provinces and incidences of malaria in flooded areas are estimated to be three times the normal average. Cholera and malaria are already chronic problems in Mozambique.

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/Maputo to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for emergency relief activities.

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

On February 25, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided a grant of $132,000 to Save the Children/U.S. to support emergency health initiatives in Gaza Province, where an estimated 70,000 people have been displaced and many farmers have lost their entire crops. The funds will be used to support health centers, cholera treatment, and public awareness campaigns on water-borne diseases for approximately 55,000 beneficiaries in 4 districts of Gaza. Additionally, the grant will provide seeds to 18,000 farmers.

Additionally, USAID/BHR/OFDA is sending 200 rolls of plastic sheeting, 6,000 water jugs, and 6,000 wool blankets (valued at $85,000) from its stockpiles via a DOD-funded aircraft. The plastic sheeting will provide temporary shelter for approximately 2,000 families. The airlift will also include over 130,000 packets of high-energy biscuits donated by the U.N. The airplane is scheduled to arrive in Maputo on Wednesday, March 1. After dropping off some of the supplies for distribution in southern areas, the aircraft will travel to Beira to distribute the remainder of the supplies in affected areas of central Mozambique.

On February 29, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided $1 million through USAID/Maputo for continued search and rescue operations and air transport support.

USAID/BHR/OFDA is currently finalizing plans to deploy a seven-person DART to Maputo. The DART is scheduled to depart on or about March 1.

The USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has begun initial procurement of 15,000 MT of U.S. corn, 1,500 MT of pulses, and 600 MT of vegetable oil for shipment to Mozambique. The total cost, including shipping, is estimated at more than $7 million.

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.

In addition to supplying the aircraft for the USAID shipment, the DOD's HAST is prepared to assist with the logistics of the air shipment upon its arrival in Maputo this Wednesday.

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. Included in the second appeal is a request by the GRM for assistance with rehabilitation and reconstruction costs, which are estimated at more than $50 million.

International Response:

Most contributions of the international community to date have been previously reported in Fact Sheets #1,2, and 3 "Southern Africa - Floods"(dated February 16, 18, and 24 respectively).

On February 27, the U.N. announced that it was deploying a five-member Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team (including three members from the original UNDAC mission in response to the floods) to Mozambique. The team will work with the GRM and the UN Resident Coordinator's office to coordinate response activities.

South Africa rescue workers have announced the rescue of approximately 3,000 people through its operations. Additionally, South Africa is doubling the number of helicopters provided to Mozambique to 10. Funding for the additional air support is coming from various donors, including DFID.

Great Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) announced an additional $1 million that will fund the South African aircraft for approximately an additional 10 days, or the expanded fleet for 5 days. The U.N. reports that Great Britain is also sending two logisticians to work with the UNDAC team and WFP.

On February 25, newswire services reported a donation from the European Union of $1 million and a contribution from Portugal of $2 million. The reports did not give details of what activities these donations would support.


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

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.

South African officials have reported to the press a total of 75 deaths this month resulting from the floods.

The DOD has announced plans to provide an airlift of tents and blankets from its stockpiles for victims displaced by the floods. The commodities are currently scheduled to arrive in Pretoria on Tuesday, February 29.


Cyclone Leon-Eline hit the southeastern areas of Zimbabwe on February 24-25. The rains have caused significant damage to roads, bridges and railways. Reuters reported that the main border post connecting South Africa to Zimbabwe and neighboring countries was closed on February 25 due to overflows from the Limpopo River.

The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) declared a disaster in the southeastern provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matebeleland South on February 24. Press reports indicate that the GOZ has mobilized its civil protection division to evacuate victims from Manicaland and Chiredzi.

The U.S. Embassy in Harare issued a disaster alert on February 28, and has notified USAID/BHR/OFDA that it will probably issue a disaster declaration on February 29.

The roads and rails linking Harare to Beira in Mozambique serve as one of the main fuel pipelines for Zimbabwe. Damage to these transport lines has exacerbated the fuel shortage that existed in the country prior to the floods.

The GOZ is currently reporting to press a death toll of 62 and approximately 250,000 people affected by the floods. The press also reports that the Zimbabwe police pulled 33 bodies out of the Mudzi River on February 26 when a bus overturned off a bridge.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

USAID/BHR/OFDA ..$1,742,000

USAID/BHR/FFP ..$7,000,000

DOD (est.) ..$1,070,000

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.

Cyclone Leon-Eline passed through the region over the week of February 20-26, bringing additional heavy rains and wind to areas already flooded.

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

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.