Save the Children (UK) Emergencies Unit Statement: Mozambique

Unusually heavy rains have caused widespread flooding across Southern Africa. In Mozambique, the country worst hit, 48 people have been killed so far and at least 100,000 people have been made homeless in the south of the country.
The capital Maputo has been particularly badly affected. The rains, believed to be the worst in 40 years, have damaged the city's sanitation facilities and cut off clean water supplies; water rationing is being implemented.

Flooding is predicted to increase in coming days as more heavy rains are forecast. In addition, reservoirs in South Africa are now full to the brim and excess river water is likely to flow into Mozambique.

The government has launched an appeal for $2.7 million to meet immediate needs. A preliminary government assessment suggests that buildings and infrastructure have suffered at least $15 million worth of damage. So far the governments of Britain, Germany, Norway, Portugal and US have responded.

Key issues affecting children

Many schools in Maputo province have been temporarily shut as a result of the floods - they are being used to provide temporary shelter to those who have lost their homes. Some re-opened on 15 February, but the majority remain closed.

Water-borne diseases such as cholera now pose a major threat to children and their families, as does Malaria (stagnant pools left by the floodwaters are a breeding ground for mosquitoes). In a normal year, up to 2 million people in Mozambique contract Malaria; the number is likely to be much higher this year.

Monitoring of food prices and food availability in Maputo by Save the Children suggests that the cost of essential items has increased by 10 per cent and that there are shortages of food and vegetables. Children are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition and to the ill-health that results from it.

Save the Children Response

Save the Children will distribute relief assistance through partner organizations - the Mozambique Red Cross, the Scouts, and a number of children's organizations.

The relief includes clothes for children - 800 t-shirts from Save the Children plus additional clothes collected in-country - and 2,500 emergency kits containing plastic sheeting, buckets, cooking utensils, crockery and blankets. These kits will be sourced locally for cost effictiveness, and distributed in badly-affected areas on the outskirts of Maputo and in the province of Inhambane. Each kit cost approximately $120.

Save the Children also plans to contribute to a 'pool' of essential medicines and supplies used by the government and aid agencies to prevent and treat illnesses arising from the floods. This pool will include water purification tablets. We are also in discussion with the Ministry of Health about the need to place a Public Health Emergencies Official in the Ministry.

Emergencies Unit 15.02.2000