Key issues affecting children
- Children's lives have been seriously disrupted by the floods and heavy rains; access to health care and education remain severely limited
- livestock and one-third of cereal crops have been lost in flood areas; as a result, malnutrition among children could rise
- children are losing out on their education as many schools have been closed by the floods
- supporting public health activities in the camps in northern Inhambane and working with local authorities to improve health services in the
- investing in the repair of damaged roads to improve access to markets and services, and to improve access to vulnerable populations.
- distributing food to an estimated 17,000 people in northern Inhambane.
Save the Children is working closely with the Mozambican authorities as well as national and international aid agencies
Save the Children continues to distribute non-food items to peolpe affected by the flood in northern Inhambane province and to re-unite separated chidren with their parents and families. Despite prolonged heavy rain until mid-April, floodwaters in Mozambique are now receding. However access to some communities remains problematic. Roads and bridges are damaged and in need of repair and the ground is still waterlogged and muddy in many areas, making road travel difficult.
Two months on, meeting people's immediate need for food, health care and clean water is still a priority. To date, a joint-agency Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal has raised £22 million. These funds have gone to the humanitarian response programmes of Save the Children and other agencies.
Cyclone Hudah hit Madagascar and then the northern district of Zambezia province at the start of April. Heavy rains continued to plague Inhambane province until the middle of the month, resulting in renewed flooding and increased groundwater in many areas. Although floodwaters are now receding, lakes have formed in some places and the land remains waterlogged. Aid is being delivered to remote areas by helicopter, boat or truck depending on the level of access. Those who can are returning to their homes and villages but transportation still remains difficult. Government figures suggest that the floods caused 650 deaths.
After the search and rescue phase, the government and aid agencies turned their efforts to the provision of food, clean water, health care and shelter, and planning for the longer term. Tens of thousands have lost personal possessions, homes, shops, livestock and cultivated fields; women, children and the elderly have been particularly badly-affected.
Plans for re-developing the country's infrastructure are underway. Priority is being given to rehabilitating roads to allow access to cut off communities. Aid agencies have distributed seeds for people to plant at the end of March in time for the next harvest in September, although the success of this harvests is not guaranteed. Landmines laid during the war pose a risk as many have been disturbed by floodwaters.
Mozambique's debt service payments are equivalent to $1.4 million each week. Save the Children is calling for an immediate halt to debt service payments and for Mozambique to be treated as a special case for debt relief.
In 1998 Mozambique had a total debt of $8.3 billion. The major bilateral creditors are Germany, Portugal, Russia, United States, Italy, France and the UK. After the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief scheme was realised in 1999, the country's debt service was reduced from $112 million per year to $73 million per year. The introduction of enhanced HIPC conditions has meant that this debt service has been further reduced to $45 million per year. Despite this latest reduction, Mozambique's debt service remains a heavy burden - its annual budget for primary education prior to the recent floods was just $32million and for primary health care $20million.
Although the UK, France and Italy have announced their intentions to cancel the debt owed by Mozambique to their respective countries, the World Bank has only given Mozambique a one-year moratorium on the debt service. This postpones debt repayment for a year but does not cancel it. The World Bank has also allowed Mozambique to take out further loan of $100 million to cope with the floods. The spiral of debt therefore continues for one of the world's poorest countries.
On May 3-4 2000, donors pledged $453 million to fund reconstruction programme in Mozambique. This amount exceeds the government's appeal by nearly $3million. Funds will help to restore and improve education, health care, infrastructure and agriculture as well as revitalise the private sector. However they will not deal with the existing debt burden and, although money has been pledged it has not yet been delivered.
Key issues affecting children
The number of children separated from their families during the rescue and evacuation process was not as high as initially feared. Two hundred children were identified as unaccompanied in the camps in northern Inhambane and a further 200 in Gaza province. The majority of these children are being looked after by leaders and other families in the camps. As more areas become increasingly accessible, further unaccompanied children may be identified. The numbers of children orphaned by the floods are, as yet, unknown.
Last year, Mozambique cultivated enough food to feed its people for the first time since the end of civil war a decade ago. With livestock and about a third of cereal production lost in flood-affected areas, Mozambicans are having to rebuild their livelihoods yet again and currently depend on the delivery of food and other aid.
Reports suggest that malnutrition among children could rise, and some cases of acute malnutrition have already been recorded among young children. Many were already in the early stages of malnutrition when the floods hit, as food is traditionally short at this time of year.
There has been an increase in cases of malaria, diarrhoeal disease and dysentry amongst the flood-affected population and there is still the potential for cholera epidemics which, like malaria, are endemic in Mozambique. Health problems have been exacerbated as a result of poor sanitation and damage to, and contamination of, shallow wells and bore holes. Most people are taking water from the river, while a few are trying to dig new shallow wells. As access to many areas is still a problem, collating exact data is difficult. The World Bank estimates that $4,158,000 worth of damage to has been done to health infrastructure in Inhambane.
Children are losing out on their education as many schools have been severely damaged by the floods. Some schools are being used to provide temporary shelter to those who have lost their homes, while others have been washed away. Even before the floods hit, only 30 per cent of 6-to-12- year-olds attended school and less than 30 per cent of the children who started primary education completed it. The situation is particularly bad in rural areas.
Save the Children's response
Save the Children continues to distribute relief assistance itself and through government and partner organisations. The relief includes emergency kits for the affected population containing plastic sheeting, buckets, cooking utensils, crockery and blankets. These kits have been distributed to people still living in camps in northern Inhambane and to those returning home and attempting to rebuild their lives. To help families re-establish livelihoods, fishing materials will be distributed to fishing communities in the Save River valley and mills to grind maize will be given to other villages. Save the Children has also been working with the government authorities to identify the extent of rehabilitation work required over the months ahead.
Widespread damage to roads and bridges is affecting the access of communities to markets, culminating in a loss of income and employment opportunities as well as loss of food and non-food items. Difficulties in access are also hampering the delivery of relief and the restoration of health and education services to the population. To this end, Save the Children is carrying out an assessment to identify damaged stretches of road with a view to repairing them.
Save the Children is supporting the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare (MICAS) in Inhambane with its work with separated children. A family tracing programme has been established with MICAS in Inhambane province. Separated children in camps have been registered for tracing purposes and adults who have lost children are also being registered. As well as registration forms, photographs of unaccompanied children are being distributed to camps and communities on posters. Where family members of separated children cannot be traced, alternative long-term solutions will be found.
Save the Children continues to provide essential medicines through the Provincial Ministry of Health in Inhambane. These include oral rehydration salts (used to treat diarrhoea), basic antibiotics, water purification tablets and treatments for gastro-enteritis.
Save the Children has placed an Emergency Health Adviser in northern Inhambane to identify public health needs in the affected areas. Initial work focused on preventing epidemics and improving the nutritional status of children in camps. Following a health assessment undertaken with local health authorities, Save the Children will now work to rehabilitate damaged health centres and replace equipment lost in the floods. We will also support local structures to improve systems for responding to health needs in the province and ensure that reliable health data is more accessible at all levels of the provincial health service.
Save the Children will provide emergency food rations for an estimated 17,000 people living in vulnerable communities in northern Inhambane over the next 3 to 4 months.
Save the Children believes it is essential to focus on education in emergency situations, partly as a way of returning a degree of routine and normality to children's lives. The provincial authorities have asked Save the Children to help in the rehabilitation of schools in many of the districts of Inhambane province.
There are 50-70 children in the average primary school class, so children must go to school in shifts. This means that on average, each child will only receive up to 3 hours of tuition a day. In addition to school rehabilitation, Save the Children is working closely with local education structures to look at ways in which the quality of education available to children can be improved in the longer term. This work corresponds to Save the Children's existing education strategy in Mozambique which focuses on community involvement and ownership in the provision of relevant, effective education to the most vulnerable children.
In many of the flood-affected areas there are disabled, elderly and chronically-sick people who are finding it particularly difficult to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the floods. Save the Children will work with local organisations to specifically assist these groups with the support they need, whether it be the rebuilding of their homes or additional food deliveries.
Planning and preparedness
The provincial government of Inhambane has been overwhelmed by the demands placed upon it by the emergency and has requested that Save the Children provide a technical adviser to assist in the planning and coordination of food security, health, social welfare and education interventions. This advisor will ensure that children in the worst affected communities are prioritised in rehabilitation plans and work with the provincial INGC (the National Institute for Disaster Management) to improve the provincial government's disaster preparedness and response in future emergencies.
Save the Children UK (SC UK) started work in Mozambique in 1984, placing technical advisors in the Ministry of Health when few donors were willing to provide this type of support. Over the next ten years SC UK provided technical assistance in epidemiology, nutrition, logistics immunisation, health information systems and information technology.
Subsequently, the programme went on to work in Zambezia, the most populated and least developed province in the country. SC UK rebuilt roads, bridges and schools, distributed relief items, and improved water and sanitation. It also supported livelihood projects and social-welfare programmes, including community-based care of disabled children. In 1994, the programme expanded to cover social welfare and education work in Inhambane province.
Today, the focus of SC UK's long-term development work is improving the quality and quantity of basic services, advocating children's rights, and responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It maintains a capacity to respond to emergencies.