The Advance Team for the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Medical Team was sent to Mozambique for the period of March 10-15 in connection with the floods affecting the country. The team engaged in discussions with the government of Mozambique, the provincial governments of Maputo and Gaza, international agencies, NGOs, etc. The team also made inspection tours the affected areas and determined the content of activities to be performed by the Medical Team. As a result of the Advance team's work, the Japanese government determined that the Medical Team would engage in operations aimed at refugees and residents living in the Hokwe district of Gaza.
1. The Overall Situation in Southern Mozambique
The recent flooding caused extensive damage in the provinces of Maputo and Gaza. The flooding was particularly serious in such towns as Xai-Xai and Chokwe, where at times the towns were completely covered with from 2 to 8 meters of water; the flooding of these towns resulted in the emergence of a large number of victims. As of March 15, the water level in all areas was receding, however the Advance Team observed that many of the fields and houses in these areas were still flooded. In particular, the team noted that floodwaters had pooled in many areas of the upland region above Chacalane, making the region appear to be covered with large lakes. The region is low-lying with extremely poor drainage, and as a result the water level rises whenever rain falls.
2. The Situation in Hokwe
OThe town of Hokwe itself was spared damage from the floods because of its position on the top of a slight hill. However, people from seven surrounding communities have been coming to the town in search of refuge. It has been said that Hokwe, which originally had a population of some 22,000 people, has received approximately 33,000 refugees, making the total number of people in the town grow to somewhere around 55,000. On top of this, such factors as the impassability of unpaved roads in the area has meant that medical activities from international agencies and donors have not begun in Hokwe. A large number of serious cases of malaria and diarrhea have been reported in the town, which led the Mozambican government to ask Japan for the dispatch of a medical team. The fact that the town and its surrounding areas are not infested by landmines was also a factor in its selection for the team's activities.