Madagascar + 1 more

Mozambique floods: Update 18 Mar 2000 (and Madagascar)

As water-levels continue to recede after the worst flood in Mozambique's recorded history, WFP is expanding its emergency operations to cover rehabilitation.

In the short-term, WFP must provide food aid for some 365,000 people who lost their homes in the floods and are sheltering in 96 makeshift transit camps of all sizes, spread across the Limpopo and Save river valleys. The largest camp at Chiqualene holds 57,000 internally displaced persons.

WFP's 20 food aid monitors, already in Mozambique to oversee development projects prior to the floods, have been re-deployed and are co-ordinating distribution of emergency food rations.


When the rainy season ends in late March / early April, flood victims are expected to leave the camps and head back to their towns and villages. WFP food aid will be used to facilitate their return.

To help Mozambique kick-start its local economy, WFP will pay workers with food to resurrect their shattered communities. Projects will include the reconstruction of schools and shops, the rebuilding of railways and roads and, most importantly, the planting of new crops.


Mozambique's floods destroyed crops in communities that were defined as food insecure long before natural disaster struck. WFP spokesperson Lindsey Davies delivered this dispatch after visiting a Mozambican village called Tanzania on the upper reaches of the Limpopo river valley.

"People have started to trickle back to their villages and face the true extent of the damage to their lives. There is a sense of total desperation, grief and hopelessness. The men cannot begin to rebuild their houses as the wood and grasses they normally use have either been washed away or are so rotten that they cannot be used. Women spend hours laboriously picking over maize cobs they have collected from the waterlogged fields. It's a fruitless task as the few edible grains salvaged are only enough to cook one small pot of maize porridge. That feeds a family of five for one day."

"Piles of rotting, fermenting and insect ridden maize lie in each village - the remnants of what would have been a good harvest totally destroyed. Cattle and goats are also notable by their absence. A local farmer explains to me that the crops and livestock are like a savings account, the only source of income in villages like this, giving locals something to barter with at the local market. The farmer tells me he is bankrupt. The villagers need to be able to replant their fields and restock their herds if there is to be any chance of recovery."

Updates from the Field

March 18, 2000

More rains are predicted over the weekend in Central and Northern Mozambique. The Buzi + Zambezi rivers are both running at critical levels.

Wary of a possible overflow in Tete province, WFP is preparing to transport food to the town of Zumbo on the Zimbabwe border. Because helicopters do not have the fuel capacity to make the round trip between Tete and Zumbo, WFP is using trucks.

The Royal Navy's Fort George, anchored at the mouth of the Save River, is acting as a floating heli-pad for 4 Sea Kings to airlift WFP food to 14 distribution points. 120 tons will be dispatched over the next few days to the estimated 45,000 people who live in the Machanga/Save river basin area.


WFP has launched a fresh international appeal for US$34 million to finance emergency food rations as well as the cost of food-for-work projects. The request raises the total funding required for Mozambique to US$ 45.2 million, enough to cover the food needs of 650,000 people until a second harvest due in mid-August.
The new appeal includes US$5.3 million to guarantee the continued use of South African National Defense Force helicopters for food aid transport as well the rehabilitation of key roads and railways.


Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft: 59
Boats: 109 deployed throughout country

Total foreign aid workers: 2,400 (50 percent are military personnel)


  • WFP reports urgent need for helicopters and small plane to deliver food to inaccessible towns.
  • WFP announces that total number of people affected by floods is 469,370, in the east, north-east and highlands region.
  • WFP Buffalo (small twin-engined cargo plane) carried 7 tons to Sambava, a badly affected coastal town in north-east Madagascar. In total, WFP has delivered 43 tons to Sambava.
  • WFP makes it first food distribution in eastern region of Vatomandry.


February 17: Cyclone Eline hits the east coast, ripping across the country some 80 kilometers north of Antananarivo. Damage assessments estimated that the storm affected 61,355 people, causing 64 deaths and leaving 10,000 people homeless. 1,500 people are currently living in makeshift shelters. Floodwaters and landslides cause widespread damage to infrastructure.

March 1-5: the Tropical Storm Gloria also crosses Madgascar, following the same path as Eline. Heavy rains exacerbate flooding.

March 8: WFP announces plans to provide 25 tons of emergency food rations (rice, beans and sugar) to 30,000 people in the badly-hit coastal town of Mahanoro. WFP will deliver 375 tons to other towns including Antalaha on the northeast coast, Vatomandry and the west coastal town of Belo-Tsiribihina. Preparations are also being made for a more extensive emergency operation that will reach 250,000 tons.

March 13: WFP charters two aircraft from government and starts airlifts to east and northeast coastal areas affected by the floods. Country food stocks include 650 tons of rice, 180 tons of maize, 180 tons of pulses and 100 tons of sugar.

March 14: WFP Buffalo aircraft (small twin-engined cargo plane) due to arrive in Antananarivo, the Agency's main transport centre for Madagascar.


Trevor Rowe
Office +39 06 6513 2602
Mobile +39 348 6099463

Francis Mwanza
Office +39 06 65132623

Jeffrey Rowland
Office +39 06 6513 2971

Mozambique Maputo:
Abigail Spring
Mobile + 258 82 316 644 Lindsey Davies
Mobile +258 82 316 642

Mozambique Beira:
Inyene Uyoden
Office +258 3 326203 / 301314

Christiane Berthiaume
Office +41 79 285 7304

Wagdi Othman
Office +261 20 2230 833 / 2278 589
Satellite +871 761 661 746

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