In February last year, heavy rain and two cyclones caused catastrophic flooding in Mozambique. The worst affected parts were the country's three major river basins, the Limpopo, Save and Buzi rivers. Thousands of people were stranded amidst the water, whilst villages, roads, health centres and crops were simply washed away.
A year on from the disaster, Mozambique has again been affected by heavy rain and flooding. This time the major impact has so far been confined to the central provinces of Sofala, Zambezia and Tete and it is the Zambeze River and its tributaries, that are causing the greatest concern. Malawi has also been seriously affected and the area south of Blantyre is largely underwater.
The Kariba and Cahora Bassa dams are reported to be near capacity and the authorities are releasing more water than ever, which inevitably means more flooding along the Zambezi valley in the centre of the country. Torrential rains continue in Zambia and Malawi. According to the latest figures compiled by the Red Cross from official sources, the confirmed displaced population as of 28 February numbers at least 90,200, made up of 53,000 in Tete; 23,500 in Sofala and 13,700 in Zambezia. The death toll has risen to around 50 and thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed.
The Mozambique Red Cross and the Federation have dispatched 4,000 family kits to the flooded areas. Each family kit contains one tent, two blankets, mosquito nets, a kitchen set, used clothes and hygiene articles.
"These goods, part of a disaster preparedness stock set up last October, enabled the Red Cross to react instantly to the crisis and ease the suffering of the affected population," says Mark Wilson, the Federation's Head of Delegation in Maputo. "However, this is not sufficient to provide an overall solution to the scale of the present disaster." For Mozambique, this appeal seeks 5 million Swiss francs to provide temporary shelter and basic household supplies for 30,000 people or 6,000 of the worst-hit households. Water, sanitation and health activities are also planned in the flood-affected provinces of Sofala, Zambezia and Tete. A year ago, devastating floods in central and southern Mozambique killed more than 700 people, displaced 544,000 more and caused billions of dollars of damage.
International Red Cross response
The Federation have been carrying out assessment work, in coordination with other agencies, and have now launched a Preliminary Appeal seeking CHF 4,895,506 in cash, kind and services to assist 30,000 beneficiaries for 3 months. The Red Cross response will deliver shelter, clean water, sanitation facilities, health care and essential relief supplies to some of the most vulnerable, displaced families.
British Red Cross response
British Red Cross (BRCS) has already begun to give material support to the Appeal. A thousand family tents are being mobilised from South Africa along with 1500 family kits, comprising cooking sets, clothing, items for personal hygiene, mosquito nets and water containers all basic items for survival. We have also requested support from the British Government in the amount of =A3250,000 to help us contribute further to the relief stocks needed and to other operational costs such as transport and communications. Our plan of action will be reviewed as the situation on the ground develops. BRCS is funding 4 delegates in Mozambique.
In neighbouring Malawi, nine people have lost their lives while 60,000 people from 117 villages are reported to have been made homeless. In total, 194,000 people from the Mangochi region, at the southern tip of Lake Malawi, have been affected by the floods. Thirteen of the country's 27 districts have been declared disaster areas.
The Shire river valley has been confirmed as the worst hit among many flooded areas of Malawi. Access by road is impossible so an aerial assessment was organised by the Red Cross yesterday and the results of this are urgently awaited. Many thousands of villagers are known to have been forced from their homes by flood waters and most are cut off from assistance.
The Malawi Red Cross and the International Federation have sent emergency relief items to the flood-affected region, which are being distributed to families. This includes more than 200 tents, 3,200 blankets, 17,300 metres of plastic sheeting, 300 tarpaulins, 836 cooking pots and 350 kitchen sets, 800 jerry cans, 189 hoes and 25,000 water purification tablets.
For Malawi, this appeal seeks 2.5 million Swiss francs to provide relief support to 20,000 victims in the worst-affected Lower Shire area. As well as shelter and basic household items, the Red Cross is providing drinking water, basic health care and sanitation facilities. A field assessment and cordination team (FACT) has been deployed in Malawi to evaluate the medium term needs.
International Red Cross response
The Federation has launched a Preliminary Appeal seeking CHF 2,471,910 to assist 20,000 beneficiaries for 2 months; the operation is to focus on relief support to disaster victims in the worst-affected lower Shire area. Additional international delegates are being deployed to the area to assist the Malawi Red Cross. It is likely that the current appeal will be reviewed as further information becomes available about the situation on the ground. In the meantime the field teams need relief items such as tarpaulins and blankets as well as health kits, in order to replenish stocks that have now been used and to boost the response.
British Red Cross response
British Red Cross intends to support the Federation operation and has submitted a concept note to DFID asking for =A3150,000 to be used for the purchase of jerry cans, blankets, kitchen sets, water purification sachets and tarpaulins. We also propose to supply materials for the construction of latrines as sanitation will be a key issue at camps for the displaced. Additionally we have requested funds to support transportation and administration elements of the operation. Once again we will be monitoring the situation and will seek to mobilise further resources if the situation demands it.