Madagascar + 2 more

CWS undertakes $2.6 million flood recovery in Southern Africa

March 24, 2000, NEW YORK CITY
Church World Service is undertaking a $2.6 million program to help rural households get re-established following the cyclones, heavy rains and floods that have battered Mozambique, Madagascar and several other southern African countries since February.

Hundreds of thousands of persons have lost their homes, belongings and crops and now face rebuilding their lives from scratch as soon as it is safe for them to return home. CWS and its African partners are keeping a nervous eye on the continuing bad weather, which already has washed away one harvest and left the ground too soggy for the March-April planting, and which threatens to prolong food insecurity.

CWS Emergency Response consultant Ivan DeKam of Grand Rapids, Mich., is meeting with churches across the region all this month to assess how Church World Service can best help them meet recovery needs. CWS Emergency Response Director Rick Augsburger joined him March 5-10. Follow-up visits are planned for May and June.

The two spoke by phone on March 22 (with Mr. DeKam on the line from Madagascar) and briefed a larger group with details of CWS's planned response. Church World Service is the emergency response, human development and refugee assistance ministry of the National Council of Churches.

The big issue in the region now is long-term recovery, Mr. Augsburger said. Too often in emergencies, after the initial response, the world tends to move on and forget. Church World Service is committed to the long-term, supporting people with basic household and agricultural inputs until they can begin supporting themselves again.

Moreover, we work with African churches and ecumenical organizations, he said. These partners know their communities and have worked in those communities for years. We support them as they support people's work to re-establish themselves. This way of working is one thing that sets CWS apart from many other relief and development agencies.

Across southern Africa, Church World Service is supporting the local purchase of rural resettlement kits, which for a modest $180 each will equip families as they return home.

While tailored to each family's particular needs, each kit typically includes cooking pots, a charcoal stove, dishes and utensils, blankets, sleeping mats, soap, a water container, a bucket, a basin, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, a water filter and basic foodstuffs (rice, beans, maize, sugar, salt, cooking oil) and in some cases even a pair of goats. Seeds and tools will be distributed at the next planting season.

Persons wishing to support CWS's post-flood response in southern Africa may do so by sending contributions to: CWS Southern Africa Flood Appeal, #976416, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Phone pledges or credit card donations: 1-800-297-1516 ext. 222. Or click on the banner bellow to make an on-line contribution:

Details on Mozambique Response

Mr. DeKam reported that, in Mozambique, the strategy is that as soon as the water levels come down and stay down and the rains are over, people will go home. They'll come to distribution centers monthly for food stocks. When it's time to plant, families will collect seeds and agricultural implements, including hoes and pangas. The next planting is scheduled for September, with harvest six to eight weeks later, Mr. Augsburger noted, so people will need basic food support until then.

In Mozambique, CWS's rural resettlement kits also will include landmine awareness materials. The floods have left many of these deadly weapons, laid during Mozambique's 16-year civil war, exposed, unstable or swept to new areas. Hidden devices will make rehabilitation that much harder, Mr. Augsburger said, and complicate the campaign to rid the country of landmines.

Most of the areas that were flooded had been heavily mined, he said. Most of those areas were mapped but now most of the maps are useless. We talked with a Canadian organization on site, which shared their concern that they'll have to do a whole new mine sweeping operation to determine where the mines are. Many years of work since the war stopped have just completely gone down the drain.

More than 1.1 million Mozambicans have been affected by the floods, with 210,000 displaced. Near-total crop losses are almost certain in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, with serious crop losses expected in central Manica and Sofala. While some people needing emergency assistance are still being found, most emergency needs are being met, Mr. DeKam reported on March 22, who added that there are enough resources in the country to meet those needs.

Church World Service's partners in Mozambique are the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) and the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique (IPM). Both are exceptionally well organized, Mr. Augsburger and Mr. DeKam reported.

The CCM has a network of people in the field all over. I'm very impressed, Mr. DeKam commented. Directing the CCM's relief and recovery effort is Titos Macie, who did a lot of disaster relief in the civil war and has all the age and worry wrinkles to show for it. He's wise, respected, knows people in the field and has a lot of experience behind him.

The Presbyterian Church of Mozambique is undertaking emergency food distribution to survivor accommodation centers on behalf of the United Nations World Food Program.

Church World Service is underwriting its Mozambican partners' response with more than $1 million, which will cover local purchase of blankets and/or tarps for 24,400 people, rural resettlement kits for 5,200 families and development of an Emergency Committee to coordinate long-term recovery efforts and future emergency response.

Madagascar, Zimbabwe Response Details

Madagascar, an island nation of 13 million located off continental Africa's east coast, also was hit hard by the cyclones, floods and consequent mudslides. Mr. DeKam estimated that at least 500,000 people have been affected, 40,000 homes destroyed and hundreds of communities still not reached. Many water systems are presumed damaged or destroyed," he said, and anecdotal evidence suggests a growing health crisis. I talked with people from the northeast, who said a hospital there is taking in between 60 to 80 cholera patients a day and the northeast was not the hardest-hit region.

I think there are adequate emergency supplies on hand but distribution has been the big problem because of a lack of information about where people are and how to get to them, he said.

Church World Service is planning close to $1.5 million for Madagascar, for local purchase of rural resettlement kits for 8,000 families and emergency management training for denominational and ecumenical partners in Madagascar being planned for early June.

The group here that has pizzazz, moxie and a sound organizational structure that includes congregations in 108 villages is the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, Mr. DeKam reported. They're eager to help Madagascar recover. They just
don't know how.

The Council of Churches of Madagascar, FIKRIFAMA and other groups including the Roman Catholic Church also are enthusiastic about the upcoming training and are expected to participate, he said.

Church World Service is assisting flood response in Zimbabwe by providing funds to the Johannesburg-based South African Council of Churches for purchase and distribution of blankets for 4,500 families. Immediate relief needs in Zimbabwe have been well met, and there already is substantial movement into actual recovery, Mr. Augsburger said.