Dateline ACT Mozambique 10/00: Update 18 March

By Elaine Eliah
Over the past few days, water and sanitation engineers David Banks and Knut Eker surveyed the water systems in the towns Moamba and Boane, both in Maputo Province. Moamba is in the plans to become Maputo's provincial capital and currently has 6000 residents in town and 10,000 in surrounding areas. The engineers found significant damage to the pump intakes as well as to the electrical supply. Minor damage to the water treatment plant existed prior to the flooding and some
probably resulted from electrical fluctuations.

Recommendations have been made to provide the community with one of the portable water treatment units that we will be receiving. (Note: these had been expected on Thursday but were unexpectedly delayed until Monday. We hope.) ACT/LWF would also set up a bladder tank and tap stands and provide a means for trucking clean water into central Moamba. This would require at least one full time technician. This temporary unit would remain in place while we assisted the town in getting their system repaired and operational for longer term use.

Boane has a line that sends water from the main Maputo source and also pumping equipment and bore holes of its own. None of these alternatives is working at this point. Engineering recommendations include repair of the Maputo-Boane line, and assisting in cleaning Boane's river intakes and pumps. They urge establishing structures and practices which can enable regular maintenance and funding thus making any repairs sustainable.

Aqua Rural has contracted to drill the first new boreholes for Congolote settlement. David expressed concern about random borehole drilling in an area that will have a high density of latrines and urges more serious planning of the community. He also urges more concern over latrine digging as Congolote's population, once water is available, could quickly expand beyond the "bush" toilet stage.

David's report from the other day described a plethora of NGOs clamoring for something to do and boasting of more equipment in the country than can really be put to emergency use. He suggested a more long-term view of the water situation here in Mozambique and the possible re-application of funding to such improvements that might prove more long lasting and sustainable to the population.

He also mentioned how in the post-flood rush to get into fieldwork, Gaza has become the sexy place to work and Maputo Province is now being pretty much ignored, despite the fact that thousands are still drinking untreated river water four weeks after the flooding. He suggested he and Knut both stay in Maputo to concentrate their efforts.

When considering how to best apply the sums of money that have been donated for the cause of water and sanitation, David Banks feels that training can might be our greatest value purchase. In view of what he terms, "poor management concepts", and "lack of technical expertise", he recommends workshops be held to teach Mozambicans to best care for any new products they may receive through all this emergency aid. His proposal, to be forwarded in depth soon, also suggests scholarships to train country nationals at foreign universities.

LWF managed to clear shipped containers through customs that had arrived well before the flooding occurred. I managed, after three days and countless phone calls, to get 250 tents air-lifted from Beira to Maputo where they can be distributed to people in Gaza who are in more urgent need than the people in Sofala.

That was the highlight of my day and I had to focus on this when my day-long search for seed proved more than a little exasperating. Yes, the Italian government is purchasing 60,000 seed/tool kits for flood victims. They will be available free. HOWEVER, (and it's a really big however), those "kits", which have not yet been assembled, are in Harare. Meanwhile, the Italians, along with UNDP, have put the money in the hands of the Mozambican government, who will buy from SEMOC. This ex-Mozambican parastatal may or may not be capable of delivering before the planting deadline for this season. Government has estimated this date as mid-April but other experts seem to be saying that might be too late.

With this company holding a kind of monopoly on bringing seeds into the country, and NGOs clamoring to get their hands on other supplies, there remains the hitch that we still might have difficulty getting whatever we purchase cleared into the country. Although I theatrically have the LWF name branded on 10,000 of these Italian seed kits I have no faith that they will arrive intact and on time.

I talked this morning with Crown Agents about our alternatives and I believe we can get seeds to Maputo by the end of March for US$ 100K-120K. These could come from Harare, but I'm assured that Jo'berg would entail a lot less paperwork. I realize justifying spending this money when there are supposed "free seeds" is something of a dilemma but I am not alone in my doubts as to whether the government can effectively manage this distribution (estimated 1200 tons). I strongly suspect that even after seed kits have been delivered into the hands of Province officials, delays of requisitioning from local officials will become cumbersome. AND, these seed kits will almost certainly arrive after the foreign military helicopters have left the country making our delivery really difficult.

Many of the communities with which LWF had been working, had their homes spared even though their fields were totally destroyed. Although hoes and machetes are being located for purchase as well, I don't feel we can hold farm tools in quite the same priority as seeds. Delays with planting, however, will necessitate WFP feeding affected populations for at least an additional season.


Elaine Eliah is a press officer currently working for ACT-.LWF in Mozambique (mobile phone: + 27 82 85 89 106).

For further information you can also contact: Nils Carstensen (mobile + 41 79 358 3171).

ACT Web Site address:

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.