Madagascar + 2 more

Floods in Southern Africa Update May 2000

Situation Report
Originally published
Southern Africa's flood zone is continually threatened by forecasts of additional rain to the region where more than two million people have been affected.
"Catholic Relief Services has received generous donations from the people of the US, totaling over $1.5 million. This will be used to contribute to recovery work ongoing once the floods have disappeared from the headlines, and donors have moved on to the next emergency." says Will Campbell, Catholic Relief Services' Southern Africa Representative.

Catholic Relief Services has committed $450,000 in response to the emergency and the agency with Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE partners, to help organize emergency preparedness training for local church and government organizations, responding to immediate human needs for food, water, health care and shelter throughout Southern Africa.

Catholic Relief Services' Response:

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. The number of deaths in the region is now estimated at 800.


In the areas of the Save and Taganda rivers, crops have been swept away or completely buried under mud and sand. In Chipinge, the roads have been severely damaged or obstructed by debris and a quarter of the district's population, 90,000 people, will require food assistance.

Catholic Relief Services hopes to continue food distributions through the next six months. The agency has also provided roofing sheets, wood poles roofing nails and wire for building shelter.

Catholic Relief Services is also 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. Additionally, CADEC will also assist with building temporary shelters for the displaced individuals as well as help to repair and reconstruct homes in community facilities. The agency will continue to provide transportation and administrative support to those most in need.

According to United Nations' estimates, 100 people have died from the flooding and another 96,000 people have been directly affected, specifically in provinces located in southern and eastern Zimbabwe. As many as 20,000 of those most critically affected, are in temporary shelters and camps. Many of the displaced people have refused to return home and wish to be relocated due to fears that there will be more flooding.


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

In the areas in the northeast, flooding and the additional rains from cyclones Eline and Gloria have hit the districts of Sanbava, Antalaha and Maroantsetra particularly hard. To date, of the 500,000 people affected by the floods in Madagascar, 42,000 still are in need of immediate assistance.

Additionally, Catholic Relief Services will 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 communities and villages in the regions of Marolambo, Antanambao-Mananpotsy, Mahanoro, Andapa and Maroantsetra are still isolated due to the flooding. Medical attention is urgently needed in these areas. More than 200 individuals have died in Madagascar.

An aerial survey conducted by Catholic Relief Services, in conjunction with US Agency for International Development and John Snow Inc., revealed extensive damage to a key railway between Sahasanaka and Manampatrana. A rehabilitation program for the railway bed may be needed. The railway is expected to open in July.

The west coast of Madagascar still is suffering from above average water levels that are not expected to recede until late June - July. The floods have affected the rice crops, the main staple, in the region of Marolambo. Food reserves are practically depleted, with many roads and bridges cut off. Many individuals are still isolated by floodwater and only reachable by helicopter. In Maroantsetra, local officials reported that 64,000 people are affected.

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.

South Africa:

Catholic Relief Services has committed almost $100,000 in private funds to provide housing materials, essential food commodities and essential household items to families in the north-eastern Dioceses of Witbank and Tzaneen. These areas were also badly affected by housing damage and destruction by the flooding. All assistance will be programmed through the local Catholic Church.

Background of the Situation:

Southern Africa is suffering from the most devastating floods in the last century. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana have been disfigured beyond recognition and have suffered serious damage from the flood. Additionally, more than one million people have been displaced by the latest wave of floods and continue to suffer from the effects of malnutrition, particularly among children.

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 Campbell.

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.