Mozambique

Mozambique Emergency Bulletin 4: 18 Mar 2000

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at a glance

Key issues affecting children

  • in northern Inhambane, there are children currently living in camps, some of whom have been sent there by families due to lack of food.
  • In flood-affected areas, lack of clean water and unsanitary conditions could lead to outbreaks of cholera and malaria; young children are likely to be worst affected
  • children’s lives have been seriously disrupted; access to health care and education has been severely limited by the floods.

Key areas for Save the Children
  • Save the Children is distributing household kits for 20,000 people
  • Save the Children is supporting public health activities in the camps in northern Inhambane, and running food kitchens with extra rations for children
  • Save the Children is assisting the government’s efforts to reunite separated children with their families and to prevent further separation
  • A food security assessment which will look at immediate food needs and medium-term requirements is currently underway
  • Emergency preparedness measures have been investigated in Zambezia province to guard against any risk of flooding in the area.

Key partners
  • Save the Children is working closely with the Mozambican authorities as well as national and international agencies

summary

Save the Children is continuing to distribute supplies to reception centres in northern Inhambane, where hundreds of families were evacuated to, and is advising on public health in these camps. The organisation is also working to quickly re-unite separated chidren with their parents and is organising food for children and adults. In the UK, a joint-agency, Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal was launched and has raised £18 million to date; funds will go to the humanitarian response programmes of Save the Children and other agencies.

Floodwaters in Mozambique are generally receeding although heavy rains continue in some areas. The rescue mission is now over and relief efforts have moved into the second phase: focusing on people’s immediate needs for food, health care and clean water. As not all families are staying in reception centres, supplies are also being sent direct to villages. The provinces worst affected by the floods are Gaza, Maputo and the northern part of Inhambane.

Background

relief

Heavy rains in Inhambane province over the last few days have resulted in renewed flooding along the Save river. As a result of over-crowding in Pande camp, people have been transferred to a new camp that has been opened nearby on higher ground. With the search and rescue phase over, the government and aid agencies are now turning their efforts to the next phase: providing immediate food needs, clean water, health care and shelter, and planning for the longer term. The government's latest figures state that 45,600 people have been rescued; 329,000 are displaced and are being accommodated in 97 centres. The official death toll is currently 492. An estimated 1 million people are in need of aid, although this number may decline.

Plans for re-developing the country's infrastructure are also underway. Priority is being given to building roads to allow access to cut off communities. Aid is being delivered to remote areas by helicopter, boat or truck depending on the level of access. Plans are also being drawn up to distribute seeds for people to plant at the end of March for the next harvest in September. There is considerable risk posed by landmines laid during the war, which have been disturbed by floodwaters.

Further flooding

The floods began in early February when Mozambique received 455 mm of rain in three days, almost as much as it gets during the entire rainy season. This downpour came on top of seasonal flooding and was compounded by Tropical Storm Eline, which swept in from the Indian Ocean later in the month.

Although floodwaters are now generally receding allowing many people to return to their homes and villages, intermittent heavy rains continue to hamper relief efforts. Even in areas where floodwaters are receding, transportation still remains difficult as mud is impeding trucks from delivering relief items.

debt

Mozambique’s debt service payments are equivalent to $1.4 million each week. Compared to this, the amount of money pledged for emergency relief is small. Save the Children is calling for an immediate halt to debt service payments and for Mozambique to be treated as a special case for debt relief.

Mozambique is already in line for some debt relief under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank’s HIPC (Highly-Indebted Poor Countries) scheme. It is important that creditors do more than just give Mozambique the debt relief already earmarked for June. It is estimated that Mozambique is paying $73 million each year in debt payments, which compares with the country’s annual budget of just $20 million for primary health care and $32 million for primary education. Budgetary constraints also mean that Mozambique is unable to invest in emergency preparedness planning, which would allow it to respond better to future natural disasters.

Goverment Appeal

The government of Mozambique has appealed for $250 million to meet humanitarian needs arising from the floods. International donors have pledged more than $100 million so far.

Key issues affecting children

Immediate impact

According to UNICEF, about 180,000 out of the 1 million people affected by the floods are children under the age of five. Children are always the worst affected in emergency situations and Mozambique is no exception. Children are at serious risk from the threat of infectious disease. Outbreaks of diarrhoea due to lack of clean water and poor waste disposal can also prove fatal.

separation

The number of children separated from their families during the rescue and evacuation process is not as high as initially feared. The Mozambican government estimates that of the 1500 people in two camps in northern Inhambane, 200 are separated children. However, some children are being sent to camps by families who are unable feed them. Children are however, being looked after by leaders and families in the camps. It is estimated that there may be a further 200 separated children in Gaza. The numbers of children orphaned by the floods are, as yet, unknown.

food

Last year, Mozambique cultivated enough food to feed its people for the first time since the end of civil war a decade ago. With livestock and about a third of cereal production lost in flood-affected areas, Mozambicans are having to rebuild their livelihoods yet again and currently depend on the delivery of food and other aid.

Reports suggest that malnutrition among children could rise, and some cases of acute malnutrition have already been reported among some young children. Many were already in the early stages of malnutrition when the floods hit, as food is traditionally short at this time of year.

health

Many areas have no safe drinking water or sanitation facilities. There are high levels of malaria and diarrhoea. It is not clear how many people have died from malaria – as malaria is endemic in Mozambique, resistance may be high. As access to many areas is still a problem, collating exact data is difficult. The INGC (The National Institute for Disaster Management) believe that cases of cholera and diarrhoea have increased over the past few weeks.

The INGC stated that its health priority for this week is a vaccination campaign against measles and meningitis.

education

Many schools have been affected by the floods with the result that children are now losing out on their education. Some schools are being used to provide temporary shelter to those who have lost their homes, while others have been washed away.

Even before the floods hit, only 30 per cent of 6 to 12-year-olds attended school and less than 30 per cent of the children who started primary education completed it. The situation is particularly bad in rural areas.

SCF response

relief

Save the Children is distributing relief assistance itself and through government and partner organisations. The relief includes clothes for children and emergency kits for 20,000 people containing plastic sheeting, buckets, cooking utensils, crockery and blankets. These kits are being distributed in badly affected areas of northern Inhambane to help people to re-establish daily life. To this end, Save the Children has been supporting efforts to move people from the overcrowed Pande camp to another camp nearby. Save the Children's plane, 'SCF One', has been delivering resettlement kits and shelter materials such as plastic sheeting to the new camp. Save the Children is also working with the government authorities to identify the extent of rehabilitation work required over the coming months.

separation

Save the Children is supporting the Ministry of Women and Social Welfare (MICAS) in Inhambane with its work on separated children. A Save the Children Emergencies Advisor, who has extensive experience of working with separated children, has been in consultation with MICAS to set-up a family tracing programme in Inhambane province. Save the Children is registering all separated children in camps in northern Inhambane for tracing purposes. Adults who have lost children are also being registered. Inter-camp tracing has also begun. As well as registration forms, photographs are being taken of children and are being distributed to camps on posters. Some children have already been recognised and re-united with their families.

health

Save the Children has contributed essential medicines to the provincial government in Inhambane. These include oral rehydration salts (used to treat diarrhoea), basic antibiotics, water purification tablets and treatments for gastro-enteritis. The medicines are enough for 30,000 people for 3 months.

Save the Children has seconded a Health Advisor to the Ministry of Health to assist in the government’s national response and help develop plans aimed at reducing the spread of communicable diseases. A health assessment is underway. It is envisaged that a significant proportion of initial work will focus on the rehabilitation of health facilities damaged by the floods.

food aid

Save the Children has been running communal kitchens in 2 camps in northern Inhambane and has been helping to prevent malnutrition in children by providing them with extra food in a form that is easy for them to eat (high-energy milk and porridge). Save the Children is also assisting with the ware-housing of food and non-food items. A food security adviser has been assessing the scale of food shortages and the need for further food assistance.

EDUCATION

Save the Children believe it is essential to focus on education in emergency situations, partly as a way of returning a degree of routine and normality to children's lives. The provincial authorities have asked Save the Children to work in many of the districts of Inhambane province including Govuro, Mabote, Massinga, Vilankulo and Inhassoro. As one of the worst-affected areas of the province, Govuro’s 19 primary schools are likely to need substantial repair.

With the average primary school class accommodating 50-70 children, children must go to school in shifts. This means that on average, each child will only receive up to 3 hours of tuition a day. In addition to the rehabilitation of schools in the province, Save the Children is working closely with local education structures to look at ways in which the quality of education available to children can be improved in the longer term.

PREPAREDNESS

With the onset of flooding in Inhambane and other provinces, there was a possibility that water levels could rise in the Zambeze river. This could cause local flooding in Zambezia province where Save the Children has been working for many years. As a result an assessment was undertaken in the province. Although it has been determined that there is no immediate danger of flooding, emergency preparedness work is underway and the situation is being monitored on a regular basis.

Save The Children in Mozambique

Save the Children UK (SC UK) started work in Mozambique in 1984, placing technical advisors in the Ministry of Health when few donors were willing to provide this type of support. Over the next ten years SC UK provided technical assistance in epidemiology, nutrition, logistics immunisation, health information systems and information technology.

Subsequently, the programme went on to work in Zambezia, the most populated and least developed province in the country. SC UK rebuilt roads, bridges and schools, distributed relief items, and improved water and sanitation. It also supported livelihood projects and social-welfare programmes, including community-based care of disabled children. In 1994, the programme expanded to cover social welfare and education work in Inhambane province.

Today, the focus of SC UK’s long-term development work is improving the quality and quantity of basic services, advocating children’s rights, and responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It maintains a capacity to respond to emergencies.