Southern Africa: Floods report

News and Press Release
Originally published
JOHANNESBURG, 13 March (IRIN) - A French helicopter carrier arrived off the coast of Madagascar on Monday to bring relief to thousands of flood victims in the country's stricken northeast. In Mozambique, WFP launched a US $34 million appeal to support the country worst hit by cyclones Eline and Gloria, while in Zimbabwe, donors allocated funds for nearly 100,000 people displaced by the storms which swept in from neighbouring Mozambique andMadagascar.

The Japanese government on Monday said it would send tents, blankets, plastic sheeting and other emergency relief supplies worth US $209,000 to assist thousands of people in southern and eastern Zimbabwe affected by floods and heavy rains from the cyclones which swept through neighbouring Mozambique and Madagascar.

The scale of the flooding

The donation followed a United Nations Inter-Agency Appeal for Emergency Relief last week for US $3,160,799 to assist 96,000 people. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that out of 500,000 people affected by floods in Zimbabwe, some 20,000 persons have been displaced. They were now living in camps, schools or with friends and relatives.

UN agencies participating in the appeal, it said, aimed to provide assistance in the sectors of food, health, water and sanitation, agriculture, education, communications, coordination and management.

On 4 March, the government of Zimbabwe appealed for US $21.2 million.

"The UN Disaster Management Team has been working closely with the ministry of Local Government and National Housing in assessment of the situation and coordination of relief assistance," an OCHA report said. "The UN Disaster Management Team will review and update the appeal to respond to the evolving situation."

Initial assessments

Information on the disaster had so far been provided by the Civil Protection Unit and the Water and Sanitation Unit of the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing, the Central Statistical Office of the finance ministry, the Commercial Farmers' Union, the Forestry Commission, Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS), and other government departments. "The UN Disaster Management Team has sent three teams to assist the Provincial and District Civil Protection Unit in assessing the affected areas," OCHA said. "Another mission, led by the head of UNICEF and the head of WHO, left for the Matebeleland South Province on 8 March. More requirements are expected to arise from the findings and results of the ongoing assessments for immediate, medium and longer-term requirements."

The UN Disaster Management Team has provided funds to each affected province and district in order to assist in the effective coordination of the relief operation. The Team is currently working with NGOs to enhance coordination.

Other donors

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has released US $100,000.

The German government contributed US $123,545 to German Red Cross for procurement of tents, plastic sheeting and blankets, and a further US $176,134 for the repair of roofs, the procurement of medicines and logistical support.

The US government allocated US $25,000 to International Federation of Red Cross and Red crescent Societies (IFRC).

OCHA released US $20,000 from its Emergency Grant.

OCHA said it was prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions for immediate relief needs. Funds channelled through OCHA will be spent in coordination with the relevant organisations of the UN system and OCHA will provide written confirmation of their use. Funds should be transferred to OCHA Account No. CO-590.160.1 SWIFT-code UBSWCHZ12A - at the UBS AG, PO Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference: OCHA-Zimbabwe-Floods 2000.


WFP on Monday launched a US $34 million appeal for Mozambique. In a statement it said US $27 million of the funds would be needed to provide the country's 650,000 flood victims with emergency food aid and food-for-work assistance over the next six months until mid-August.

WFP, the lead agency in Mozambique, said the remainder of the funds comprised US $3 million to finance five South African helicopters until the end of the month. Another US $4 million is sought to undertake road and railway repairs.

"This is really critical because the repairs will enable more food to reach needy areas by surface transport, and provide for less reliance on costly air transport which has a relative capacity," WFP spokeswoman Lindsey Davies told IRIN.


On Monday the government disaster management authority, the Instituto Nacional de Gestao das Calamidades (INGC) agreed that the ministry of agriculture would work closely with WFP and NGOs to ensure that seeds for the April planting season are distributed with food.

"With the main planting season beginning next month for the September harvest, we have to start giving families seeds now so they can plant," Davies said. "It is important we distribute seeds with the food so that people do not eat the seeds."

Meanwhile, a British ship has installed a floating helipad in the Save River basin near the second city of Beira so that helicopters will be able to shuttle food to remote locations. "This is an example of how WFP is looking at incrasing its capacity, making most of resources and cutting down on journey times," she said.

At the weekend, 121 mt of food was transported by road from Beira to the town of Save.

Coming weeks

Davies said, "we are already thinking about the weeks ahead. Food is being pushed in and now we are trying to get one step ahead. Of the 650,000 people, many have not been displaced, but lives and livelihood have been affected. It is vital therefore that roads cut by the flood waters are reopened so they can get to markets and start trading." She said the
humanitarian community would create economic opportunity for this purpose so that people can start rebuilding their lives as soon as possible.


As a French warship carrying six helicopters arrived off the northeast coast of Madagascar on Monday, Prime Minister Tantely Andrianarivo visited the area for a first-hand aerial assessment, officials told IRIN.

Media reports said that nearly a month after cyclone Eline hit the giant Indian Ocean island on 17 February, followed by cyclone Gloria on 5 March there were still questions about how many people are in need. The government has put the number of affected people at close to 600,000, while the number of those said to be in "desperate" need was put at 22,000.

WFP's senior representative in Madagascar, Haladou Salha, told IRIN on Sunday the agency had been trying to transport as much relief as possible so that the helicopters of the Jeanne d'Arc could begin deliveries to areas cut off by the flood waters which have claimed at least 130 lives.

Officials also reiterated their appeals for more helicopters and aircraft to assist with assessment and relief efforts.

WFP spokesman Wagdi Othman told IRIN on Monday that the priority was to get urgent aid to scattered disaster victims whose numbers were likely to increase as more detailed reports came in from the north of the country. A spokeswoman for the government Conseil national de secours (CNS) said assessment teams sent to flood zones at the weekend were due to report back on Tuesday or Wednesday.


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