Malawi + 2 more

Emergency relief for flood-hit Mozambique

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ActionAid is responding to the severe flooding that has affected swathes of southern Africa displacing hundreds of thousands of people in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.

In Mozambique ActionAid is delivering relief aid to more than 20,000 people living in one of the worst affected areas of Mozambique where floods have displaced 170,000 people and killed at least 45 so far.

Food, blankets and jerry cans are being despatched from Maputo today en route to people in Mutarara district in the Zambesi basin - located 1,500 kms north of the capital - one of the areas hit hardest by the country's worst floods for five years.

ActionAid is supplying 50,000 cans of sardines, 9,000 blankets, 7,000 bars of soap, 5,000 metres of plastic sheeting and 2,000 jerry cans in this round of aid.

Ana Chico, 36, now staying with her family in one of 14 temporary camps in Caia, in neighbouring Sofala, said it was a matter of saving themselves or their belongings.

"We watched as everything we owned was swept away by the water: our chickens, our kitchen utensils, our clothes and bed linen - everything. The waters washed away all the machamba crops - our only livelihood, just when it looked like we were going to have a bumper harvest this year."

Escaping the floods was not the only thing Ana had to endure that night.

"Just as we were escaping the floods, I suddenly felt contractions coming on, and with my husband Chico Vasco's help, and my brothers, I gave birth to my baby son Fernando by the railway line," she said.

"Today I sit here with my family with nothing but unimaginable suffering ahead of us. We have no way of feeding our children. That's why my family and others around us, ask the government and ActionAid to please help us."

Ana's family have been flooded out in the past but chose to go back to the low lying basin because it was a good place to grow crops and earn a living.

Now there are government plans to permanently relocate 132,000 people living in temporary low-lying areas of the Zambezi River. But there are concerns about the way this is happening.

"These people live in districts that are very prone to flooding and many of them need to relocate to safer areas," said Alberto Silva, ActionAid's Acting Director in Mozambique.

"But we need to work with people to find a solution and think about how they will grow crops and earn a living," he added.

ActionAid is working with communities to provide immediate relief but is also working to promote long term recovery. It plans to distribute short cycle and drought resistant seeds, to help people adapt to the impact of climate change and become less vulnerable.