Malawi + 2 more

Southern Africa: Floods report 27 Mar 2000

JOHANNESBURG, 27 March (IRIN) - As donors met at WFP headquarters in Rome to discuss the floods in southern Africa, humanitarian officials told IRIN that although the rainy season was coming to an end, international assistance will be required for some months to come.
Rain was forecast early in the week for southern Mozambique and Swaziland. The Swazi government has appealed to donors for assistance after losing most of its staple maize crop after flooding along the Umbuluzi and Incomati
rivers. The details can been seen at

On Monday, there were reports that at least 30 villages in northern Malawi's Karonga district were flooded when rivers burst their banks after heavy rains in the area.


The national disaster management authority, the Instituto Nacional de Gestao de Calamidades (INGC) said the discovery of 12 bodies from receding flood waters on Friday had brought the death toll to 652 people. It again raised fears of a higher toll following the devastation wrought by cyclone Eline in February and cyclone Gloria in early March which affected some two million people across the country.

Humanitarian officials also confirmed to IRIN on Monday that five people were crushed to death and 10 others seriously injured in a stampede to get food being distributed from lorries at the Chiquelane camp in the southern Chokwe district on Thursday last week. The latest INGC report said a non-governmental organisation had embarked on a food distribution operation at the camp "without going through the proper channels and without any prior preparation". It did not identify the NGO involved.

"There was chaos during an uncoordinated and poorly planned relief distribution," WFP said in a statement. WFP and the government appealed for closer collaboration and information sharing among all involved partners to ensure proper distributions.

WFP said on Monday that more than half a million people in Mozambique were still living in more than 100 camps across the country and that they would need emergency humanitarian assistance until they could be resettled.

"Right now, all these people need food and they need assistance," said WFP spokeswoman, Aya Schneorson. "Helping them get back to their homes and return to normal life is going to be a major challenge over the next six months."


The agency said in a statement: "During the next six months, WFP plans to distribute 53,000 mt of various food commodities. As people return home and resettle, the general food distributions will be replaced by food-for-work activities, which will be implemented in collaboration with NGOs and local authorities."

As people leave the relief camps, they will be provided with a one month supply of food, seeds and tools. The agency said it had also started distributing 100,000 family-size kitchen kits complete with cooking pots and eating utensils. WFP said it had boosted its staff and consultants in Mozambique to 40 personnel.

In its latest report, the INGC called for better coordination in food distribution: "The delivery of food aid is badly coordinated, because some organisations take food donations directly to delivery points without consulting the food aid coordinating group. This group would like more information from organisations involved in food aid, so that the planning of distribution can be done better to ensure that a balanced diet is being delivered."


The Ministry of Agriculture met with NG0s and donors at the end of last week to discuss assistance to various districts and identify those for which funding had been procured for the provision of seeds and tools.

It said a report was being drafted on the impact of the floods faced by private commercial farmers. A distribution plan has been finalised for the Italian-funded donation of seeds and tools.

"The first kits will be distributed in Mabalane, Canicado, Chokwe, Chibuto and Guija in Gaza province," it said. "Agriculture ministry officials are in the process of confirming the funds already pledged to be able to finalise the requirements for seeds and tools."

It estimated that 167,000 head of cattle, 62,000 sheep and goats, 8,000 pigs, and some 111,000 chickens and other livestock were lost in the floods.


A survey carried out in the central Sofala Province by a health team found that people living in accommodation centres still lacked adequate shelter, clean water, latrines and proper sanitary conditions. The INGC report said they were also receiving an "inadequate" diet.

"Although precise data are not available, the most common diseases in the accommodation centres were malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, and skin infections. It added that health care was provided by health units in the vicinity of accommodation centres rather than inside the camps themselves.

Last week, it said, 310 cases of cholera had been reported in Maputo, including seven deaths. A total of 189 cholera cases were reported from Sofala, 172 of which were from the country's second city, Beira.


In neighbouring Malawi, news reports on Monday said at least 30 villages in the northern district of Karonga were flooded when three rivers burst their banks following torrential rains.

Lucius Chikuni, commissioner for the country's disaster preparedness authority, told a news conference that about 7,000 families were affected, while several other villages in Nkhota Kota district were cut off.

Chikuni said the situation in the southern districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje was under control, although some people who had lost their homes were still accommodated in schools and churches.


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