Botswana + 2 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #5, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published

New information is underlined.

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 more than 1 million. 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. The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe declared a disaster on February 29.


The most severely affected areas remain the Limpopo and Save River Valleys, which continue to suffer from heavy waves of water coming from rains in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Mozambique is experiencing scattered showers. One of the main constraints to response efforts stressed by the disaster relief community is the inability to predict incoming flows of water along the major rivers and insufficient information on releases of water from dams in neighboring countries.

Weather forecasts for the next two days are calling for light showers in the southern areas of Mozambique with sunny to partly cloudy skies in the area surrounding Beira.

Thousands of people are still stranded on small patches of land, rooftops, and in trees awaiting rescue. This situation has diverted some of the air support from emergency relief distribution to search and rescue operations.

The main North/South highway remains cut in numerous places.

According to a WFP report, a total of four ships sank in Beira as a result of Cyclone Leon-Eline, causing delays in clearing a shipment of emergency food aid.

The press is currently reporting up to 1 million affected and 350 deaths. WFP reports an estimated 300,000 in need of emergency rescue or relief. WFP also states that in addition to its original appeal for $4 million, an additional $2.8 million is needed to support search and rescue operations and delivery of emergency relief.

WHO reports an estimated 800,000 are potentially at risk for water-borne diseases such as cholera, malaria, and meningitis.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Response

The DOD-funded aircraft carrying plastic sheeting, water jugs, and wool blankets from USAID stockpiles and high-energy biscuits from the U.N. landed in Maputo at approximately 7:15 a.m. local time on Wednesday, March 1. Supplies for southern Mozambique were unloaded before the aircraft departed for Beira to deliver the remaining supplies.

USAID is deploying a 25-person Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Mozambique. The DART will include a 14-person GO Team (included in the total of 25 personnel) from Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue. The GO Team is taking 3 rubber boats with capacity to transport 10-12 people each and 2 or 3 trucks from Miami to assist in swift water rescue and delivery of emergency supplies. The Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) will accompany the team, which should arrive in Maputo on March 3.

USAID has announced the commitment of an additional $3 million to be used for search and rescue and humanitarian assistance activities.

USAID activated its Humanitarian Hotline on February 28 to respond to public inquiries concerning contributions. As of the end of the day on February 29, 307 inquiries had been received.

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.

Local Response:

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:

The international humanitarian community, in collaboration with the GRM, has outlined a general approach to the response that includes several phases. The first phase consists of emergency rescue operations and identification of basic needs (ongoing). The second phase is the stabilization of the condition of the rescued populations (ongoing). The third phase has been identified as resettlement of displaced populations and emergency rehabilitation of essential infrastructure. The final phase is recovery and longer-term reconstruction.

On February 28, the U.N. deployed 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.

Many of the contributions from the international community to date have been previously reported in Fact Sheets #1, 2, 3, and 4 "Southern Africa - Floods"(available on the internet at Based on information currently available, various donations have been reported from the Governments of Belgium, Denmark, the EU, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Zimbabwe in addition to several U.N. agencies. Additional information on donor activities is available on the internet at under the Financial Tracking section.

South African Defense Force rescue workers have announced the rescue of approximately 8,000 people through their 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 (GOB) 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 sanitation systems.

The latest reports indicate that more than 62,000 people are displaced and the death toll is reported at over 12 due to the flooding. The number of collapsed buildings, primarily residential housing, is reported at 12,000.

Based on an assessment conducted from February 15-24 by the GOB and various U.N. agencies, the main concern identified was outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and malaria as a result of contaminated water systems and displaced populations with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

Roads, bridges, and sanitation systems sustained significant damage in the Northeast, Western, and Central parts of the country.

Currently, the health situation is reported as stable, with functioning health facilities and sufficient stocks of necessary pharmaceuticals.

The GOB has distributed an estimated 25,000 food packages and the food situation is reported to be stable.

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.

A DOD-funded aircraft carrying tents and blankets arrived in Pretoria on


Cyclone Leon-Eline hit the southeastern areas of Zimbabwe on February 24-25. The rains have caused significant damage to roads, bridges and railways.

The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) declared a disaster in the southeastern provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matebeleland South on February 24.

The latest reports indicate that the death toll is approximately 62 and 250,000 people have been affected by the floods.

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald issued a disaster declaration on February 29. In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA is providing an initial $25,000 through the U.S. Mission to the local branch of the Red Cross to support their activities by providing approximately 2,000 blankets, 2,000 water containers, and 400 cooking sets to benefit an estimated displaced population of 20,000.

The U.S. Embassy reports that specific details on impact of the flooding are sketchy at this time. However, a U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) coordination meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 2, at which time more information should be made available. USAID/BHR/OFDA remains in contact with the U.S. Mission in Harare.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

Country USG Agency Activities funded Amount Date
Mozambique USAID/OFDA Medecins Sans Frontieres for emergency relief activities
USAID/OFDA Grant to WFP for the provision of relief commodities and logistical support.
USAID/OFDA Grant to Save the Children/U.S. for emergency health initiatives in Gaza Province, for approximately 55,000 beneficiaries.
USAID/OFDA 200 rolls of plastic sheeting, 6,000 water jugs, and 6,000 wool blankets from stockpiles via a DOD-funded aircraft to shelter 2,000 families.
USAID/OFDA Search and rescue operations and air transport support.
2/29- 3/1
USAID/FFP Emergency food relief $7,000,000
USAID/OFDA Procurement of emergency sanitation systems
South Africa USAID/OFDA Grant to South African Red Cross for emergency supplies
Zimbabwe USAID/OFDA Grant to Zimbabwe Red Cross for emergency supplies
Total DOD

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.