Floods in Southern Africa Update 24 Mar 2000

Report
from Catholic Relief Services
Published on 24 Mar 2000
Catholic Relief Services has committed $450,000 in response to the emergency and the agency is working with local church partners throughout Southern Africa.
Catholic Relief Services continues to support relief efforts in Madagascar and Zimbabwe, providing essential household items as well as potable water and medical supplies to those individuals most critically affected by the floods.

CRS is coordinating relief efforts in Zimbabwe with the Catholic Development Education Office (CADEC) to reach over 15, 000 beneficiaries with basic food and essential household items. CADEC will also assist with building temporary shelters for the displaced as well as helping to repair and reconstruct homes in community facilities. Additionally, the agency will continue to provide transportation and administrative support to those most in need.

In the villages of Marosiky and Ambodivandrika in Madagascar, Catholic Relief Services is helping approximately 4,500disaster victims The agency has delivered plastic sheeting, candles, matches and soap to 500 families in the villages.

Catholic Relief Services will also assist by clearing over two miles of road through a food for work program. It will also provide potable drinking water to the villages. Catholic Relief Services will work with local partners to provide technical assistance for rebuilding. Projects include health and agriculture education, repairing and reconstructing homes and short-term food for work programs.

The agency supports the establishment of a Crisis Relief Desk through the Development and Welfare Agency of the Southern Africa Bishops Conference. This effort was designed to improve the diocese's disaster response capacity.

Catholic Relief Services' response aims to save lives and sustain livelihoods, while strengthening civil society. " Emergency specialists are in the region and supporting our partners. These individuals are helping our partners respond to the emergency, and continue to reach as many people as possible," says Will Campbell, Catholic Relief Services' Southern Africa Representative.

Working with Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE partners, Catholic Relief Services is helping to organize emergency preparedness training for local church and government organizations, responding to immediate human needs for food, water, health care and shelter.

Background of the Situation

Southern Africa is suffering from the most devastating floods in the last century. Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana have been disfigured beyond recognition and have suffered serious damage from the flood - almost all infrastructure has been reduced to mud.

The biggest threat to the more than one million people that have been displaced by the latest wave of floods is malnutrition, particularly among children. Catholic Relief Services will assist with the recovery and rebuilding stages over the long-term.

Thousands of refugee children have either lost or been separated from their parents. It will take the region decades to recover. Our local partners are completely overwhelmed and are in desperate need of assistance," explained Campbell. The ongoing relief assistance focuses on delivering food, clean water, and medicine as the floodwaters recede.

Agency History

Catholic Relief Services has had a regional office based in Harare, Zimbabwe since 1989 and has been working with local Catholic partners in the region for more than 10 years.