Rescue operation continues as flood waters recede

News and Press Release
Originally published
As the flood waters recede, the nature of the rescue operation in Mozambique is shifting. Rescue in the sense of plucking people from trees has wound down. However, many people are still marooned on islands in large archipelagos created by the flood waters, with little or no food or drinkable water.
Mozambique Emergency Programme manager Rob Smith was one of the NGO representatives on an aerial survey of the Save river area last Thursday: "We observed a sandbar in the salt marshes about 5km north of Machanga [at the mouth of the Save], surrounded by water with about 80 - 90 people on it. They had no boat and no food or drinking water". A boat from Medicins du Monde brought food and water later that day, and helicopter rescue was arranged for the next day.

Kate Horne, Oxfam GB Mozambique Country Representative said, "This is the way the operation must go now - aerial reconnaissance and communications with fleets of small boats to get food and water to the thousands who have been cut off for a week now." Six of Oxfam's twelve Zebra inflatable boats are working on the Limpopo river, and have already rescued over 1,000 people.

There are now an estimated 251,000 internally displaced people in Mozambique, with the largest concentration of 52,000 in the Macia area. The largest single emergency camp is in the small town of Chiaquelane, midway between Macia and Chokwe. It was originally intended as a transit centre, but with people reluctant to move far from Chokwe, it is now being serviced as a full camp for 40,000 people. The flooding has cut off road links from Macia, so all emergency supplies have to be flown in. The Mozambique government hopes to re-open the road to Maputo this week.

Oxfam has focused its response on the camps in the Macia area. Two hundred temporary latrines have been built and Oxfam is providing clean water for the 52,000 people in the Macia area, including 90,000 litres a day to the camp in Chiaquelane. This, however, is still not enough, and Oxfam is working on improving the pumping capacity of the well. The logistics of supplying such large amounts of clean water are complex - Oxfam is pumping water from a wide-diameter well in Macia into a 10-cubic metre treatment bladder. It is then loaded on to truck bladders for transportation to the camp in Chiaquelane, where it is offloaded into a series of bladders for distribution through tapstands. Oxfam continues to distribute plastic sheeting, water containers, blankets and clothing, and is putting together a hygiene promotion programme based on cholera prevention.

Following the aerial surveys of the Save river area, Oxfam is providing water equipment and personnel to CARE International, who are leading on the provision of clean water for displaced people around the towns of Nova Mambone and Machanga, at the mouth of the Save river.

Tropical storm Gloria has passed Madagascar and is now hovering in the Mozambique channel. Kate Horne said: "We must view these next days as a respite in which to move those who will be threatened by more high water, and feed and water those who can't be moved."