Botswana + 2 more

Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #8, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published

New information is underlined.

Regional Overview

The South African Weather Bureau reports that beginning March 7, additional rain from Tropical Depression Gloria is predicted across southern Mozambique and northeastern South Africa. Accumulation could reach 2 inches. The heavy rain will taper off by Wednesday, March 8, but light to moderate rain is expected to continue through the remainder of the week. Rain is also expected in eastern Zimbabwe.

The number of affected people in the region is more than 1 million, and the press reports at least 400 deaths across the region as a result of the flooding. However, disaster relief community agrees that the death toll in Mozambique alone will actually climb into the thousands once the floodwaters recede sufficiently for assessments.

The press reports that ministers from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique met in Pretoria and agreed to work together on flood response activities and to coordinate more effectively in the event of future natural disasters.

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.


Floodwaters: Water levels of the Save, Incomati. Umbeluzi, and Limpopo Rivers are reportedly receding, with no new warnings of discharges from dams issued at that point.

Internally Displaced Populations: The INGC currently estimates numbers of affected as 709,387 in the Limpopo River basin, 178,148 in the Save River basin, and 178,777 in the Buzi River basin. The INGC definition of "affected" is a population with severe economic difficulties. The INGC also lists 722,047 as "vulnerable", meaning in need of medical or other form of assistance.

The Mozambican Ministry of Social Welfare has reported the establishment of 12 accommodation centers in Maputo City (housing 11,280 people), 3 in Matola (3,919 people), 21 in Maputo Province (71,775 people), 24 in Gaza Province (94,000 people), 3 in Inhambane Province (5,100 people), and 5 in Manica/Sofala Provinces (67,700 people).

Health Issues: The two USAID/DART personnel from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) visited 3 accommodation centers in Maputo for flood victims on Saturday, March 4 to assess the health situation. One center, currently housing approximately 700 people receives food and potable water twice daily. The second, with an estimated 3,000 people, receives food once per day provided by the Government of Mozambique (GRM). Two of the centers have adequate access to sanitation facilities and all three are provided with limited healthcare. Primary health problems identified are malaria and diarrheal diseases. Other specified needs are increased food distribution, medicines such as antibiotics and anti-malarial medication, and shelter material. The health team also visited a cholera treatment unit located outside a hospital. The unit is currently treating 62 cases of cholera. DART reports indicate that food supplies and commodities in country seem sufficient, but logistical difficulties in transporting the supplies to affected regions remains a major constraint.

Food: The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) is the lead agency for emergency food distribution. WFP currently plans to establish 68 distribution points to benefit approximately 352,000 people. To date, WFP has distributed over 1,100 metric tons (MTs) of food to an estimated 240,000 beneficiaries.

WFP currently has food stockpiles in the amount of 8,377 MTs located in Maputo, Beira, Tete, and Nampula. Food from Maputo is transported to Palmeira and Chibuto for further distribution by air to southern regions. WFP is distributing food via air from Beira to northern and central affected areas. Stocks have been pre-positioned in parts of Inhambane and Gaza Provinces, where food insecurity is considered the most severe.

WFP is partnering with the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), local governments, and numerous NGOs to carry out food distribution and monitor the situation. WFP staff are positioned in Maputo, Beira, Palmeira, Macia, Xai-Xai, and Chokwe, with one food aid monitor in each district. Plans are to add 30 international staff to enhance current food monitoring capacity.

Of the 650,000 people estimated to have lost all or part of their livelihood, 175,000 are reportedly in need of food aid for a three-month period.

Water/Sanitation: UNICEF is the lead agency addressing water/sanitation issues. As such, UNICEF reports that in Gaza Province, Xai-Xai and Chibuto water systems are usable, but need generators to provide electricity. Two generators have been procured for Xai-Xai, and UNICEF currently plans to procure an additional generator for Chibuto. UNICEF is arranging for an evaluation of the water system in Chokwe, which was totally submerged by the floods.

A contractor has already been identified to evaluate the water systems in the Buzi and Save River basins, but UNICEF reports that these systems should be repaired fairly quickly.

In working with partner NGOs, UNICEF’s plan is to supply clean water to the most vulnerable populations initially using water bladders and purification units. The second phase will involve rehabilitation of wells and boreholes.

UNICEF is constructing pit latrines as needed amongst the displaced populations, with the final goal of providing 1 latrine per 20 people. The sanitation plan also includes public awareness and health education programs. The main need identified by UNICEF is transportation of vehicles, equipment, and fuel to remote locations.

Rescue/Relief Operations: On March 4, the GRM declared a transition into the emergency relief phase from rescue operations. If the additional rain from Tropical Depression Gloria increases floodwaters, rescue operations may be resumed.

The South African Defense Force (SANDF) is reporting the rescue of more than 14,000 people to date. Malawi’s two helicopters reported 1,100 rescues from its operations.

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

USAID has announced a contribution of $1 million to WFP for the procurement of maize from northern Mozambique.

USAID will also procure and transport three World Health Organization (WHO) emergency health kits to Mozambique. These kits will provide medicines and supplies to an estimated population of 30,000 for a period of 3 months. The kits are currently scheduled to arrive in Maputo on March 11.

On Saturday, March 4, USAID/DART personnel conducted an aerial assessment over Machanga and Nova Mombane (Save River basin). Although areas of land were still underwater, the water level had receded significantly.

The GO Team from Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue is currently en route to Beira (northern Mozambique). Once the team and boats arrive in Beira, they will run emergency relief operations along the Buzi River.

USAID is currently funding 13 aircraft (9 fixed-wing and 4 helicopters). Six of the fixed-wing aircraft are running assessment missions and transporting emergency supplies from Maputo. The other two are performing similar functions from Beira. One airplane is performing large overview missions and transporting disaster relief personnel. The 4 helicopters are conducting assessments and transporting supplies. One helicopter has also been designated to perform rescue operations as needed and serve as a spotter for the boats working in the Buzi region.

On March 3, the USAID Humanitarian Hotline received 116 inquiries for a total of 937 since activation. The USAID special web site dedicated to the flood response has received 2,543 hits.

On February 7, U.S. Ambassador Curran declared a disaster and USAID provided an immediate $25,000 through USAID/Maputo to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for emergency relief activities.

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.

The United States European Command (EUCOM) deployed a Joint Task Force (JTF) to assist in search and rescue and humanitarian relief operations. Having arrived on March 5, the JTF is operating out of its staging base established in Hoedspruit, South Africa. Major General Joseph Wehrle is Commander of the JTF. The main Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) is located in Maputo, with a satellite CMOC in Beira to coordinate operations in northern Mozambique. Under the current plan, the JTF will also deploy helicopters and C-130P (aircraft for refueling) to Beira.

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

Some of the more recent donor contributions are listed below. Additional information on donor activities is available at

On March 5, the media reported that of the $65 million requested by the GRM, $40 million had been received to date from international donors.

The press reports a 100-person military unit from Great Britain arrived in Maputo on March 5.

On March 3, European Commissioner Poul Nielson announced that contributions from the EU to Mozambique are in excess of $24 million for food aid and humanitarian assistance.

The press reported that the Government of Ghana donated relief commodities worth more than $100,000 to the flood victims in Mozambique.


OCHA’s latest Situation Report indicates that the number of affected people in Botswana is 73,000.

The U.S. Embassy in Botswana declared a disaster on February 16. In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided $25,000 through USAID/Gaborone for the procurement of emergency sanitation systems.

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.


Cyclone Leon-Eline hit the southeastern areas of Zimbabwe on February 22. The heavy rains continued through March 1. The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) declared a disaster in the southeastern provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matebeleland South on February 24. Midlands Province was also adversely affected. Damages to roads, bridges, dams, and public buildings such as schools and health facilities were recorded in all four provinces.

In Masvingo Province, 2,500 homes are reported to be destroyed. Crop losses are estimated at $1.6 million, and more than 1,000 livestock perished in the floods.

Matebeleland South Province suffered the loss of 16,000 livestock and almost $15 million in crops.

Manicaland Province experienced the most extensive crop damage, estimated at more than $50 million, as well as the loss of approximately 1,300 homes.

On March 4, the GOZ issued an appeal for approximately $21 million for emergency assistance in the areas of food, shelter, water, clothing, and medical commodities. The appeal states that the number of affected people in the country is 500,000, of which 25,000 are said to be in urgent need of assistance. A specific list of needs is included in the appeal.

Local response activities are being conducted through the Civil Protection Department within the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing. The United Nations and several NGOs are assisting in the assessment process.

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald issued a disaster declaration on February 29. In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an initial $25,000 on March 1 through the U.S. Mission to support relief activities.

*Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

USG Agency
Activities funded
Mozambique USAID/OFDA
Medecins Sans Frontieres for emergency relief activities
Grant to WFP for the provision of relief commodities and logistical support.
Grant to Save the Children/U.S. for emergency health initiatives in Gaza Province, for approximately 55,000 beneficiaries.
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.
Search and rescue operations and air transport support.
2/29- 3/1
Local procurement of emergency food aid
Procurement and shipping of WHO emergency health kits
Emergency food relief
Procurement of emergency sanitation systems
South Africa USAID/OFDA
Grant to South African Red Cross for emergency supplies
Grant to Zimbabwe Red Cross for emergency supplies
**Total DOD
*Current USAID/OFDA funding figure does not include costs of GO Team deployment, which are not yet available.
**Current DOD funding figure does not include costs of JTF deployment, which are not yet available.

Regional Background

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

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.