Mozambique floods and Cyclone Favio, Oxfam International update

News and Press Release
Originally published
Background and current situation

Recent floods in Mozambique and torrential rains brought by Cyclone Favio have displaced more than 165,000 people in the central regions of the country. Oxfam emergency teams are working in the Sofala, Tete and Manica and provinces, in central Mozambique, attending to 34,000 displaced people with clean water, sanitation facilities and non food items.

After three weeks of red alert, the government downgraded the level of emergency to orange, as the rainy season continues in March. Flood water levels are decreasing, but the situation is still very difficult for thousands of people who have lost all their belongings, their harvest and their livelihoods. Most of them are subsistence farmers who have no other source of income. The disaster has had a huge impact on their lives and the future is uncertain for them.

- 494,303 people affected

- 165,011 people displaced (109,500 sheltering in 40 accommodation centers and 55,511 in resettlement areas)

- 80,000 hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed. Harvest was scheduled in early March, just three weeks after the flood begun.

Clearing and recovery of land and services affected by the floods has already started in some of the affected areas, but it is not clear how long the displaced people will remain in camps and accommodation centers. In part this will depend on what funds are available to keep these centers open. It is also unknown when and how the displaced people will be able to return to their homes.

"Many people don't know what do, is it better to leave or stay in the resettlement areas? Many prefer to go back home. I'm going to stay here because my house was completely destroyed and I have nothing left," explains Zitu, a 28-year old man sheltering in the Chupanga camp.

Humanitarian agencies and the government's National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) are working in coordination to meet the needs for water, sanitation, health, shelter, food and education. According to the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, there has not been any significant outbreak of disease since the beginning of the emergency, although there is still a risk of ithis as the supply of clean water is not adequate in many areas, and sanitation facilities are few. Four weeks ago, there was one latrine per 400 people. Now the rate is one for every 50, still not enough to guarantee adequate hygienic conditions. The number is expected to rise in the coming days to one latrine for every 20 people.

Recovery phase

The Government of Mozambique has launched a recovery plan for the reconstruction and reclamation of the affected areas, with an initial funding of $71 million. Its aim is to reduce the population's vulnerability to further disasters and the recovery of the economic and agricultural activities, essential services and public infrastructures. The plan set up a general framework for the resettlement of the people now sheltering in accommodation centres, but it does not specify a timetable. The plan includes special measures for some of the most vulnerable people, such as orphans and the sick.

According to the government's plan, the most immediate needs during the transition phase between the emergency and the recovery responses are:

- Access to food over the next four months.

- Seeds and agricultural tools for the next planting season, due in April. Also fishing gear for those who lost it.

- Reconstruction kits to build new houses, and tools and materials to guarantee the social and economic recovery of the affected people.

"We lost our millet and tapioca crops, but we have already started to reclaim the land. We need seeds to plant the next crop", explains Adao, a small farmer sheltering in the Namacherene camp who has his machamba (greengarden) flooded.

Oxfam International response

Oxfam International started working on the response to the floods in early February even before cyclone Favio. Its emergency teams are still working in the Sofala, Tete and Manica and provinces, in central Mozambique, attending to 34,000 displaced people with clean water, sanitation facilities and non food items.

Oxfam International is currently distributing 180,000 liters of clean water a day for 15,000 displaced people in Caia and Marromeu districts and 8,000 people sheltering in the Chupanga camp. The water supply will increase in the coming days at a rate of 10,000 additional liters each day.

As malaria and poor hygienic conditions have been some of the most worrying risks for displaced population, Oxfam has also distributed 5,500 bars of soaps, more than 3,000 mosquito nets, and 1,600 buckets in Chupanga camp. It has already built 50 bathing facilities and more than 180 latrines, and it is completing another 70 latrines. It has also distributed 1,400 mosquito nets and soap in another six camps in Caia, and 900 mosquito nets in Marromeu district, in the Sofala province. Oxfam is also training volunteers to carry out health and hygiene promotion in the accommodation camps, to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera.

At the moment Oxfam International has 32 aid workers in Mozambique, working together with the government's INGC, which co-ordinates the response, and other aid agencies. The response will be funded with USD$2.3 million (1.78m euros).

For more information, please contact:

Carmen Rodriguez (Spain), + 34 91 294 67 29 mob: + 34 615 359 401
Esther Mira (Mozambique), + 258 824 309 156
Jennifer Abrahamson (US), +1 212 687 2150, mob: +1 202 321 7858