Southern Africa - Floods Fact Sheet #9, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published

Regional Overview

The rain associated with the remnants of Tropical Depression Gloria is currently over the Mozambique Channel. With accumulation of up to 2.5 inches, rain is predicted to reach the southern areas of Mozambique late on March 7 and continue throughout the of the week. Current precipitation in Tete (north of Beire) is causing some concern over possible water levels on the Zambezi River.

The number of affected people in the region is more than 1 million, and the press reports at least 400 deaths as a result of the flooding. However, the disaster relief community agrees that the death toll in Mozambique alone will probably climb into the thousands once the floodwaters recede sufficiently for assessments.

Mozambique was the first country to declare a disaster on February 7, with Botswana following on February 16 and South Africa on February 17. The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe declared a disaster on February 29.


Floodwaters: As the floodwaters of most of the rivers in Mozambique continue to recede, more human remains are being discovered. Aerial assessments indicate that the towns of Novo Mombane and Machanga along the mouth of the Save River are still flooded.

Health Issues: The INGC reports that they are sending teams to various locations to properly handle the increasing number of human remains being discovered.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the accommodation centers, established for the displaced, require monitoring of medicines and supply inventory, initiation of health awareness campaigns and preventive measures against malaria and cholera, and development of an epidemiological surveillance system.

Food: The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) is the lead agency for emergency food distribution. WFP has requested support from NGOs to augment its food monitoring staff. The NGOs currently working with USAID in flood-affected areas are Food for the Hungry International (FHI) in Sofala Province, and Save the Children Fund (SCF) and World Vision in Gaza Province. World Vision is already working with WFP. In a report issued on March 3, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that at least 150,000 hectares of food crops have been destroyed and approximately 30% of cattle lost in the floods.

Water/Sanitation: UNICEF is the lead agency addressing water/sanitation issues. UNICEF’s current strategy for water distribution is to use water bladders and water purification units producing 40 cubic meters per hour for large populations and bladders with chlorine treatment in places with smaller populations.

Infrastructure: According to WFP, the Governor of Maputo has indicated that the Xai-Xai/Palmeira road should be passable within the next ten days, which will open transportation between Maputo and Macia.

Rescue/Relief Operations: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is working with the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator to assist in the registration of the Mozambicans displaced by the floods. The registration database that they are developing will be used at the end of the emergency phase for the return and resettlement of the displaced populations.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Response

The GO Team from Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue began reconnaissance operations with its 3 rigid hull inflatable boats in the northern city of Beira today, March 7. Each boat has the capacity to transport 3,100 lbs.

USAID/BHR/OFDA is currently funding 13 aircraft (9 fixed-wing and 4 helicopters) through its grant to an NGO, AIRSERVE. The fixed-wing aircraft are performing assessment missions, and transporting emergency supplies and personnel in various locations. Three of the helicopters are conducting similar operations, primarily from Maputo or in other areas as needed. The fourth helicopter is dedicated to spotting boats performing relief operations, coordinating with the South African Defense Force on rescue operations, assisting with the location of isolated populations, and transporting operational supplies for other helicopters. Airserv is currently providing logistical support, such as fuel, to approximately 50 boats operated by local volunteer and commercial boaters that are conducting rescue operations. AIRSERVE is similarly supporting the Mozambican Navy and boats being operated by NGOs.

On February 7, the U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique declared a disaster and USAID provided an immediate $25,000 through USAID/Maputo to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for emergency relief activities.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Response:

In response to a request by the U.S. Embassy, DOD deployed a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) on February 17 to Mozambique and South Africa.

The United States European Command (EUCOM) deployed a Joint Task Force (JTF) to assist in search and rescue and humanitarian relief operations. The JTF arrived on March 5 and is operating out of its staging base established in Hoedspruit, South Africa. Major General Joseph Wehrle, Commander of the JTF, met with the U.S. Ambassador and conducted a news conference with national and international media. He intends to commence emergency relief operations today, March 7.

Local Response:

On February 23, U.N. agencies and the GRM jointly issued a consolidated appeal for $13.6 million for emergency relief and rehabilitation activities for a six-month period. The appeal included funding requirements for activities in the areas of food, shelter, health, water/sanitation, agriculture, education, and communication. Also included in the second appeal was a request by the GRM for assistance with rehabilitation and reconstruction costs, which are estimated at more than $50 million.

International Response:

Information on donor activities and international response to date is available at


The number of affected people in Botswana is estimated at 73,000.

The U.S. Embassy in Botswana declared a disaster on February 16. In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided $25,000 through USAID/Gaborone for the procurement of emergency sanitation systems.

South Africa

Due to extensive flooding in the northeastern parts of South Africa and the resulting displacement of several small but isolated populations, U.S. Ambassador Lewis declared a disaster in these flood-affected areas on February 17. In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an initial $25,000 through USAID/South Africa to the South African Red Cross for the supply of blankets, food, and other relief items to 3,000 displaced persons in the Northern and Mpumalanga Provinces.


Cyclone Leon-Eline hit the southeastern areas of Zimbabwe on February 22. The heavy rains continued through March 1. The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) declared a disaster in the southeastern provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matebeleland South on February 24. Midlands Province was also adversely affected. Damages to roads, bridges, dams, and public buildings such as schools and health facilities were recorded in all four provinces.

On March 4, the GOZ issued an appeal for approximately $21 million for emergency assistance in the areas of food, shelter, water, clothing, and medical commodities. The appeal states that the number of affected people in the country is 500,000, of which 25,000 are said to be in urgent need of assistance. A specific list of needs is included in the appeal.

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald issued a disaster declaration on February 29. In response, USAID/BHR/OFDA provided an initial $25,000 on March 1 through the U.S. Mission to support relief activities.


The USAID mission reports that the Madagascar National Disaster Unit (CNS), in collaboration with the National Response Steering Committee (CRIC), completed initial damage assessments in five districts in the east, two districts in the west, and all districts of the Antananarivo Province. The preliminary assessments estimate a total of 61,355 people affected, 64 dead, 1 injured, and 10,000 displaced. More than 1,500 flood victims are in temporary shelters and the estimated damage to public building totals approximately $300,000.

The CNS provided 30 metric tons of rice, roofing materials, medicines, blankets and three Zodiac boats. Helicopters and other logistical support were deployed to access remote areas.

USAID is in contact with the USAID Mission and continues to monitor the situation.

Total USG Assistance in the Region (to date)

USG Agency
Activities funded
Medecins Sans Frontieres for emergency relief activities
Grant to WFP for the provision of relief commodities and logistical support.
Grant to Save the Children/U.S. for emergency health initiatives in Gaza Province, for approximately 55,000 beneficiaries.
200 rolls of plastic sheeting, 6,000 water jugs, and 6,000 wool blankets from stockpiles via a DOD-funded aircraft to shelter 2,000 families.
Grant to Airserv for support to rescue operations and air transport.
Additional support for search and rescue and emergency relief operations
Local procurement of emergency food aid
Procurement and shipping of WHO emergency health kits
Emergency food relief
Procurement of emergency sanitation systems
South Africa
Grant to South African Red Cross for emergency supplies
Grant to Zimbabwe Red Cross for emergency supplies
*Total DOD
* Current DOD funding figure does not include costs of JTF deployment, which are not yet available.

Regional Background

Higher than average rainfall coupled with 4 days of torrential rains from February 4-7 caused severe flooding in several countries in the southern African region. Reports indicate that this is the worst flooding in the region in several decades.

Cyclone Leon-Eline passed through the region over the week of February 20-26, bringing additional heavy rains and wind to areas already flooded.

Damage from the floods is extensive, isolating many areas and displacing populations in Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Public Donation Information

In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage concerned citizens to provide monetary donations to appropriate organizations. To find out about contributions, USAID encourages the public to access its web site at or to contact its Humanitarian Hotline at 1-800-USAID-Relief between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The public can also directly contact those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. Additionally, the public can contact InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas, via their web site ( Those interested in providing specific technical services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA) Disaster Information