Mozambique: Help for flood victims

GTZ Assists Aid Shipments and Helps Prevent Epidemics

Eschborn, 1 March 2000 - While demands are increasingly heard for helicopters to save people from drowning in flooded Mozambique, GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft f=FCr Technische Zusammenarbeit, GmbH - German Technical Cooperation) is making an effort to optimize the use of available funds in this emergency situation. Regular GTZ health and transport programs that have already been operational in Mozambique for some years have shifted their efforts to aiding flood survivors. Vast areas of southern Africa are now under water as a result of the torrential rains that started February 4. Key links in the road network have been cut, isolating thousands of people. A million people are homeless and threatened with hunger and disease. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has made an additional DM 560,000 available for relief in this emergency.

"Our experts, most of whom have been working in Mozambique for years, and a smoothly functioning infrastructure of offices and vehicles provide the base for launching quick and qualified support," says Ralf Kaltofen, the GTZ expert for emergency measures and disaster relief. "Our employees are not facing a situation that is entirely novel to them: their daily work has put them in continual contact with the authorities and decision-makers in Mozambique." This ensures that aid can be specifically suited to people's needs and is well-coordinated, so that it gets through to those who really need it.

In a number of areas the drinking water supply has been contaminated or cut off, so that the population is threatened with epidemics like cholera and typhus. Activities range from simple preventive measures, such as handing out soap, to the logistics concept for the large-scale distribution of foodstuffs from central stores, and also include cooperation and coordination with other aid organizations on site. Experts fear that the emergency situation will markedly worsen in the days to come. "When the wave of flooding from the rivers in the Western highlands reaches Mozambique's coastal areas, the number of victims will rise dramatically once again, compounding the difficulties the aid organizations face," Kaltofen predicts.

GTZ has been supporting development cooperation projects and programs in Mozambique for more than 11 years, primarily on behalf of the BMZ. Twenty such projects are currently operational; key areas include education and training as well as rural development.