Catholic Relief Services' Response
The initial focus will support continued relief efforts and work to sustain livelihoods. Catholic Relief Services will support the establishment of a Crisis Relief Desk through the Development and Welfare Agency of the Southern Africa Bishops Conference. This effort is designed to improve the diocese's disaster response capacity.
CRS/Zimbabwe will support the Catholic Development Commission in Mutare. The agency will respond immediately by providing food and non-food items, transport and administrative support to those individuals most in need. Catholic Relief Services anticipates reaching 10,000 individuals through this project.
Catholic Relief Services' response will aim to save lives and sustain livelihoods, while strengthening civil society. "Two emergency specialists are in the region to assess how to support our partners. Catholic Relief Services has identified Portuguese-speaking emergency personnel from Catholic networks within the Southern Africa region. These people will help our partners think through their response to the emergency, and reach as many people as possible," says Campbell.
In addition, the Catholic Relief Services is working with Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE partners to respond to immediate human needs for food, water, health care and shelter.
Background of the Situation
Southern Africa is suffering from the most devastating floods in the last century. Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana have been disfigured beyond recognition and have suffered serious damage from the flood - almost all infrastructure has been reduced to mud.
More than one million people have been displaced by the latest wave of floods. They have immediate food, medical shelter needs now, but Catholic Relief Services will also assist with the recovery and rebuilding stages over the long-term.
Outbreaks of cholera and malaria will become an increasing problem as the floodwaters recede and stagnate. Over 200 people have died in the floods and 70 cases of Cholera have been reported. Many younger children still suffer from diarrhea and clean water and medical supplies are in critical demand.
Thousands of refugee children have either lost or been separated from their parents. It will take the region decades to recover. "Our local partners are completely overwhelmed and are in desperate need of assistance," explained Catholic Relief Services Southern Africa Regional Representative Will Campbell.
The ongoing relief assistance is focused on delivering food, clean water, and medicine as the floodwaters recede. Many planes carrying food and medical supplies are unable to fly due to heavy rains in the region over the last two days.
Catholic Relief Services has had a regional office based in Harare, Zimbabwe since 1989 and has been working with local Catholic partners in the region for more than 10 years.