Mozambique floods: Update 04 Mar 2000

"This disaster is of epic proportions and we urgently need donor support if we are to expand our operations to meet all the needs."
Jean-Jacques Graisse, WFP Assistant Executive Director and Director of Operations, Rome
"Even when we're hovering above the trees, you cannot see if anyone is sheltering in the branches. But if we get too close, the turbulence from our blades starts blowing people into the water."
South African helicopter pilot.

"The entire population in the affected areas is either in water up to their necks or stranded in treetops. Before we can even give them food, we have to get them to safety."
Asfaw Ayelign, WFP Logistics Officer in Mozambique

WFP is at the heart of the United Nations humanitarian mission in Mozambique, tasking helicopters and boats in the massive search and rescue mission for thousands of people stranded on trees and rooftops and airlifting food aid to the stricken country.


WFP's rapid response team is co-ordinating a fleet of helicopters as they continue their tireless search for people in the flooded regions of Gaza, Maputo and Inhombane. In addition, the agency is using 78 boats in the Limpopo river basin for the search and rescue operation and for ferrying food supplies to the four temporary camps where the rescued are being gathered.


WFP headquarters in Rome is organising the airlift of 200 metric tonnes of high energy biscuits to Mozambique. 14 tonnes have already been airlifted out to Maputo from the Pisa food depot in Italy with a further 40 tonnes set to follow. A C130 Hercules transport plane is also shuttling 100 tonnes of biscuits from Uganda to Maputo, Beira and Vilanculos. On the ground in Mozambique, the WFP emergency response team is arranging for the food's distribution.

WFP's telecomunications team is also on the ground in Mozambique co-ordinating the humanitarian telecoms and information technology network that links the four main camps with Maputo and the outside


Total fixed wing aircraft + helicopters expected for the operation: 53
Boats: 78 operating in Limpopo basin (with 50 more requested for Save river basin)
Mobile Telecommunication Centres: 4 world.


WFP initially asked donors to fund a $4 million food package to cover the immediate needs of some 110,000 people. But, with the numbers of affected rising dramatically, we are continually assessing and expanding our operation.

WFP has delivered and distributed more than 1,200 metric tonnes of maize, pulses, sugar, oil and high energy biscuits to over 65 key delivery points in badly hit districts. The food has been distributed to some 244,000 people with the help of the local authorities, non-governmental agencies, church groups and residents.

Updates from the Field

(March 4, 2000)

Relief efforts today shifted focus from search and resuce operations to delivery of emergency food aid rations, medicines and other relief supplies.

WFP today aims to airlift 100 metric tons of emergency food rations for thousands of displaced people in temporary camps.

Yesterday, WFP airlifted 67 metric tons of emergency supplies from Palmeiras to nearby camps for displaced people in Magude, Xinavane, Chiachalane and Chibuto. WFP also started deliverying emergency food rations from Chibuto to Xai Xai.


Brenda Barton
+258 82 316642

Michele Quintaglie
+258 823 16644

Christiane Berthiaume
00 41 79 285 7304

New York:
Abigail Spring
+1 212 7699680

Francis Mwanza
+39 06 6513262