Rains and flooding continue in parts of Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and South Africa, with Mozambique being the most severely affected country. Numerous rivers in the region have overflowed their banks, and many roads, bridges, and railways connecting the countries have been flooded or washed away.
Preliminary estimates in the region indicate the number of affected people at several hundred thousand, particularly in Mozambique.
The only country to formally declare a disaster at this time is Mozambique, but the U.S. Ambassadors in Botswana and South Africa are considering disaster declarations, but awaiting more detailed information on the situation and needs of the affected population.
As of Monday, February 14, the torrential rains had subsided to intermittent showers and rain in Maputo Province. Moderate rain persists in Gaza and Inhambane Provinces, with more rainfall predicted in those areas and in Maputo Province over the next 24 hours.
Exacerbating the situation is excess water that is being released from overflowing reservoirs in eastern South Africa into the Incompati, Limpopo, Lucite, and Umbeluzi rivers, flooding the surrounding provinces. While the Buzi and Save rivers have receded to below critical levels, the Limpopo has reached its highest point yet due to reservoir releases.
A total of 45 people have been reported dead or missing.
Current reports estimate that at least 300,000 people are at serious risk in Mozambique. 60,000 of those are displaced persons in the cities of Maputo and Matola, and 80,000 are displaced in rural Maputo Province.
In addition to food and shelter, one of the main concerns for affected populations is access to safe drinking water and potential outbreaks of cholera or other water-borne diseases.
The main road to South Africa has been cut by a main bridge in Moamba District, Maputo Province, but an alternate route is allowing some commercial traffic to flow for 12 hours per day. The road through Namaacha to Swaziland was reopened over the weekend. The main North-South highway remains cut in several places due to flooding from the Incompati River. The railways connecting Maputo with Chicualacuala in Zimbabwe and Ressano Garcia in South Africa also remain impassable.
Maputo reports increased food prices in stores and markets. Likewise, access to food, particularly for populations in rural flooded areas, remains a concern.
Maputo's main water treatment plant has been restored to 75% of its normal pumping capacity, however, potable water availability and water-borne diseases remain a major concern among affected populations.
Electricity has still not been completely restored, and prices for kerosene and other sources of fuel have skyrocketed, with current prices for wood and charcoal at 200-300% higher than normal prices in Maputo Province.
Heavy rains continued throughout the weekend in Botswana, with forecasts calling for additional thunderstorms in the near future.
The U.S. Ambassador to Botswana will decide whether to request USG assistance once the Government of Botswana (GOB) has formally declared a disaster and requested assistance.
In a February 10 briefing to foreign missions in Botswana, the GOB reported estimated 25,000 people affected and 5,000 homes destroyed. Additionally, numerous roads and bridges have been washed away and several dams are beginning to overflow. Also during the briefing, the GOB's Foreign Minister requested assistance in the provision of temporary shelter and blankets for the affected population.
The UNDP organized a donor coordination meeting on Monday, February 14, at which the GOB was represented. Aside from UNICEF and the Government of Germany, who have arranged for the delivery of 500 tents and 3,000 blankets to Johannesburg on February 16, donors indicated that they are prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected population once the GOB provides more detailed information on the situation and needs of those affected.
According to the U.N.'s Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), the Swazi Meteorological Services is estimating that 157 millimeters of rain have fallen in the country's capital, Mbabane since Saturday, February 12.
The Swazi Observer reports two deaths due to the flooding and approximately ten rivers that have run over their banks.
IRIN also reports that the Mananga border post between Swaziland and South Africa has been temporarily closed.
Reports indicate 16 deaths and an estimated 3,000 homeless in South Africa's northern provinces due to the flooding and heavy rains.
In Mpumalanga Province, the local media is estimating ten deaths in addition to the loss of several bridges and homes.
According to IRIN, 200 tourists were stranded when the northeastern Kruger National Park received approximately 468 millimeters of rain in an 18-hour period.
The USG is in contact with appropriate South African Government (SAG) Ministries as well as provincial and local governments. US Ambassador Lewis will determine whether to recommend a USG response once more information on need is made available.
U.S. Government Response in Mozambique
To date, the U.S. Government is responding to the flooding in Mozambique, the only country to have formally declared a disaster. Based on information from the Government of the Republic of Mozambique (GRM), indicating that needs exceeded the government's capacity to respond, U.S. Ambassador Curran declared a disaster due to flooding on February 7, 2000.
In response, on February 8, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an immediate $25,000 through USAID/Mozambique to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to provide immediate relief to displaced populations.
Additionally, USAID/BHR/OFDA deployed a two-person team comprised of its Regional Advisor for Southern Africa and a Technical Advisor from USAID/W to work with USAID/ Mozambique on needs assessment and recommendations for USG response.
Local Response in Mozambique
On February 10 the GRM issued an appeal for $2.7 million in humanitarian assistance for Maputo Province, and an additional $15 million for anti-soil erosion activities. The Ministry of Health, the Governor of Maputo Province, the Mozambique Red Cross, and UNICEF have also launched appeals.
The GRM's coordinating body for the disaster response is the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), which held its first all-donor briefing on February 15 to provide more detailed information from government assessments.
In collaboration with aid agencies, Maputo's municipal and provincial governments have set up several shelters in schools and collection centers and are trucking in tanks to supply water in the city.
The GRM has made 1000 MT of maize available for emergency relief, and is prepared to purchase another 5000 MT.
GRM authorities have agreed to provide special customs clearance for all humanitarian assistance.
At least one GRM Military helicopter is operating for rescue and distribution of tents, boats, food and medicines.
International Response in Mozambique
On February 11, the SAG deployed four air force helicopters to Mozambique to assist with rescue operations and delivery of emergency food. These helicopters are only available through February 20.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the U.N. sent a 5-member Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team to Mozambique, which arrived in Maputo on February 12. The team is coordinating with the INGC, and plans to develop a detailed assessment report identifying specific needs over the next two weeks.
OCHA has announced the provision of $273,000 to meet health, nutrition, and sanitation needs and to conduct food need assessments.
WFP has initiated food for work programs for vulnerable populations in Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane Provinces.
Based on the findings of DFID's two-person team, the British Government is providing $400,000 to UNICEF (in response to the appeal) for water and sanitation activities and $215,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross for additional relief activities. DFID has also supplied and transported 408 tents to Maputo.
Higher than average rainfall for the season, coupled with four days of torrential downpours in part resulting from Cyclone Connie, have caused severe flooding in parts of Mozambique, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Several of the countries are stating that this is the worst flooding they have experienced in several decades.
Damage from the floods is extensive, isolating many areas and displacing large populations in several countries.
Rains continue throughout the region at varying levels, and a cyclone currently located near Mauritius and Madagascar is causing concern over potential further damage and loss of life.
Public Donation Information
In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage concerned citizens to provide monetary donations to appropriate organizations. USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. A list of relevant PVOs may be obtained from the USAID web site (www.info.usaid.gov). The list is composed of PVOs that are registered with USAID and/or listed by InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas. InterAction can be contacted at 1-818-502-4288, or via their web site (www.interaction.org). Those interested in providing specific technical services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA) Disaster Information Center for information and guidelines at (703) 276-1914.