One woman ready to name her baby after the floods; 600 Mozambican families ready to build new lives

Report
from Lutheran World Relief
Published on 03 Mar 2000
Helena Carlos does not know whether she will be one of the lucky ones to get a plot of land, but she is optimistic. The floods destroyed her house three weeks ago and she has been living in a former cashew nut factory since then with her husband, children and brothers. They are among 598 families hoping for land as part of a Lutheran World Federation program to resettle flood survivors.
Now 300 families have been offered land in a town called Matola. The municipality donated the land. LWF has made sure that sanitation and planning are in place. "We have only been granted 300 plots now," says Eliseu da Silva Machava, the local program coordinator, "but this land is planned to contain 2-3000 families so I hope the best for the future. In the first phase we can help the families with basic necessities so they can start their new lives here. An important task is to secure that it will be those who are in the utmost need who will be granted the first plots."

She sits nursing her baby. If she has to stay in the cashew factory, LWF and a local partner organization will try to ensure daily rations of food, shared between all the displaced families. "I think I will name my baby after the floods," Helena says, "maybe it will bring him strength." (With reporting by Ulla Hauer, for ACT.)

FACTS ABOUT THE FLOODING, AND MOZAMBIQUE, AS OF MARCH 3, 2000

About 2,700 people are being rescued from rooftops and trees by helicopters each day.

An estimated 20.000 people in Maputo, the capital, have lost their homes.

In the country as a whole, the number of people directly affected by the floods has risen to 900,000, of whom 300,000 have been displaced from their homes.

At least 200 people have died in the flooding. Many more casualties may have occured. A Mennonite aid team reported today that in one region they visited few people were found and many are feared missing.

Over 250,000 acres of crops have been washed away and over 40,000 head of cattle have drowned.

The main highway connecting the northern and southern parts of the country is severely damaged, and general infrastructure is in ruins.

Mozambique is spending about $1.4 million per month to service its its foreign debt. The Jubilee 2000 coalition is calling for the cancelation of Mozambique's international debt. LWR is a member of Jubilee 2000.

Mozambique is a poor country that has been making progress economically. Before the flooding, "The Economist" magazine predicted that in the year 2000 Mozambique would have the highest economic growth rate in the world.

Of the total population of 17 million people, 45 percent are aged 14 years or under; 60 percent of the adult population has not been taught to read and write, and life expectancy at birth is 42.3 years, according to the National Statistics Institute of the Southern African country.