Botswana + 2 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #6, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

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 over the week of February 20-26 with the heavy rains and wind from Cyclone Leon-Eline. A new system, Tropical Storm Gloria, is located over the northern section of Madagascar. There are currently several predictions as to the direction it might take, but it is reported to have weakened once it crossed over land.

Newswire reports indicate that the number of affected people in the region could be more than 1 million, but assessments in some of these countries are ongoing.

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 and water releases from dams in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Reports indicate that although water levels have begun to recede in some areas, they may rise again if new waves of water travel down these rivers. It is reported that more dam releases may occur in the next couple of days.

Reports indicate that approximately 2,000 people are still stranded in Chokwe. Supplies are scheduled for delivery to these people within the next day. Several hundred people are reported stranded in Xai-Xai, located on the southeast coast.

Official confirmations of deaths remain at 150, with press reports of nearly 1,000. The reported numbers of affected people range from approximately 500,000 to over 1 million. The death toll is likely to rise significantly once the floodwaters have receded.

Increases in cases of diarrhea, malaria, and cholera have been reported, but current supplies of medicine and equipment seem to be adequate.

Clean water and sanitation will continue as an issue amongst displaced populations. UNICEF is currently developing a comprehensive list of available commodities in country.

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

The $1 million announced by USAID on February 29 to support air operations is being used to lease 6 airplanes and 3 helicopters for rescue and emergency relief activities. These aircraft are operating out of Maputo and Palmeira in the south, and Beira and Buzi in the northern and central regions. British Petroleum has contributed $100,000 in fuel support for this USAID-funded operation.

The 25-person USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is scheduled to arrive in Maputo on March 3. The GO Team component comprises 3 rigid hull inflatable boats on trailers, 3 trucks, and a 14-person team from Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue to provide swift water rescue and delivery of emergency supplies.

USAID activated its Humanitarian Hotline on February 28 to respond to public inquiries concerning contributions. On March 1, the Hotline received 397 inquiries for a total of 704 since activation. The USAID special web site dedicated to the flood response has received 820 hits.

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. Also included in the second appeal was 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.

Many of the contributions from the international community to date have been reported in previous "Southern Africa - Floods" fact sheets (available on the internet at The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also lists contributions from various donors in its Situation Report #11 (available on the internet at The OCHA report indicates that donors announced contributions of $13.5 million at an information meeting convened on February 29. Other in-kind contributions were also announced.

The total number of known aircraft currently available for flood response operations is 39, with 29 reported in operation on March 2. The South African Defense Force has expanded its original fleet to 7 helicopters and 5 fixed-wing aircraft.

As of March 1, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) reported that it has distributed an estimated 476 MTS of food in southern Mozambique, and approximately 565 MTS of food to the central regions.


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.

Reports indicate that more than 62,000 people are displaced and over 12 were killed in the floods. 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 C-5 carrying tents and blankets is due in South Africa today, March 2.


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.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

USG Agency
Activities funded
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
Botswana 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.