Mozambique + 2 more

Southern Africa: Floods report 31 Mar 2000

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JOHANNESBURG, 31 March (IRIN) - As floodwaters recede in the southern African region hit by torrential rains in February and March, a clearer picture is emerging of the extent of the damage caused by floods that destroyed houses, bridges, farming land and roads.
However, the weather forecasts predict that more rains can be expected in the region over the first half of April, which could put more pressure on dams and rivers that have been swollen because of the torrential downpours.

The Regional Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Ebrahim M. Samba, is on a three-day visit to Mozambique to see flooded areas, meet with displaced people and see work in action to control malaria, which is normally endemic in the country, WHO told IRIN on Friday.

MOZAMBIQUE

The river levels in the country hardest hit by the floods that started in February are stabilising and dropping slowly, according to Mozambique's disaster management authority, the Instituto Nacional Gestao de Calamidades (INGC). The flood wave on the Limpopo river, the main source of the flooding, reached Xai Xai this week, after which the level began to fall, said the INGC.

It said both the Save and Buzi rivers are now below alert levels, adding that it expects the Buzi to remain this way as long as there is no large discharge from the Chicamba dam. It said the Pungwe, Zambezi and Licungo river levels are also falling, although the Messalo river in Cabo Delgado remains high.

Food aid

WFP delivered 214 mt of food over a two-day period this week, bringing the cumulative total of food delivered since the start of the emergency operation in February to about 5,100 mt. "This cumulative total includes previously unreported deliveries," said INGC.

It said the main priority regarding food aid deliveries include the mobilisation of more funds. "Despite generous support so far, WFP still needs US $35 million for food and special logistics operations to continue," the INGC said.

From 24 to 27 March a total of 309 mt of food was distributed from Beira by road, boat and air to destinations mainly in the Sofala, Manica and Inhambane provinces, added the INGC.

Agriculture

The INGC said it estimates that 124,250 families need seeds and tools to help them prepare for the planting season due to start in April. It added that donor response for seeds and tools now covers supplies for 91,398 households, in addition to the 60,000 agricultural packages already financed by the Italians.

Provincial authorities, according to INGC, need financial assistance to deliver the seeds and tools to districts and localities as transport has been secured for only as far as provincial capitals.

Health

INGC said there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of acute diarrhoea in Catembe and two confirmed cases in Chimoio, the capital of Manica province. It also said 860 cases of cholera have been recorded in Maputo since the beginning of this year, compared to 295 cases in the same period last year.

Sofala province has recorded 320 cholera cases this year compared to 205 last year, said INGC. It said 7,010 cases of suspected malaria were reported in Inhambane province this year compared to 5,483 last year. It added that 16,773 cases of malaria were recorded in the first nine weeks of this year in Maputo province compared to 11,520 in the same period last year.

At the same time, news reports said at least 11 people died this week from malaria at the Chaquelane accommodation centre for displaced flood victims in the southern Gaza province. The reports added that this brings to 35 the number of people who have died since the beginning of March at the field hospital in the centre.

Most of the dead, added the reports, were children under six years of age.

Dr Samba said that Mozambique "has responded with vigour to the challenges of the recent floods, and through its ongoing programmes of work in the health and development sectors, remains committed to the global Roll Back Malaria partnership movement which aims to reduce deaths by 50 percent by the year 2010".

Water and sanitation

INGC said activities planned for the coming week are the clean-up of Chokwe and an awareness campaign on environmental hygiene.

It added that the water supply in Chibuto has been tested and was found to be clean and safe to drink and that the distribution of water treatment materials is continuing.

Shelter and accommodation

INGC said shelter materials have been delivered to 230 families in Nova Sofala this week from Beira, and that 400 other families in Mossurize were also scheduled to receive non-food aid.

The Chibuto, Chokwe and Xai Xai districts in the Gaza province received 1,500 tents and 27,885 blankets so far, INGC said. It added, however, that data available at central level on the distribution of non-food items has many gaps as some organisations don't provide this information.

INGC said reports indicate there are about 8,000 people camped in a warehouse in the Buzi district capital. It said although they have access to clean water, medical assistance and food, they, however, have no latrines, which raises health concerns.

Logistics

INGC said the Joint Logistics Operations Centre (JLOC) will move the logistics base from Palmeira to Chokwe and expects to move food supplies to Chokwe.

It said flights to Chibuto were cancelled on Thursday because the runway was damp because of the rain. Total air operations have transported more than four million mt of cargo and 20,461 passengers.

Landmines

INGC said the Accelerated Demining Programme has despatched an official to Sofala to assess the effects of the floods on previously marked minefields. It said two mine sightings have been reported, one near a school in Maringue district and another at Buzi.

It added that mine awareness training has been given to 3,126 people in Save.

Donors

The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, says his country is lobbying for the cancellation of Mozambique's external debt which amounts to about US $8.3 billion.

Speaking in Mozambique's capital, Maputo after talks with President Joaquim Chissano, Fischer said the issue needed to be dealt with immediately in the wake of last month's devastating floods.

In February some of Mozambique's creditors approved a year-long debt payment moratorium but the Mozambican government said a cancellation would have been more appropriate.

NAMIBIA

The heavy rains which have fallen countrywide this year have proved devastating for Namibia's agriculture sector.

In its recent Crop Assessment Mission to cereal-producing areas in northern Namibia, the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information System (NEWFIS) found that in most areas where heavy rains had fallen farmers experienced widespread seed germination failure, flooding and waterlogging of young crops as well as difficulties in controlling weeds in fields.

The Namibian Agronomic Board, in a separate report, said floods had destroyed about 2,500 mt of maize crop in Hardap in the south of the country.

NEWFIS said most of the northern communal and commercial coarse grain-producing areas recorded between 300 to 600 mm of rain between October last year and the second week of March.

A total of 320,700 hectares have been planted with rain-fed coarse grain crops in the northern communal areas and the Maize Triangle. Some 1,100 hectares were planted with white maize in the commercial irrigation projects below the Naute and Hardap dams in the South, at Kombat and along the Kavango river.

This brought the total area planted with coarse grain to 321,800 hectares, of which 289,000 hectares were mahangu fields and 32,800 hectares were for white maize.

However, due to the unfavourable weather conditions - first the long dry spell and now the floods - most of these crops have been destroyed.

The expected national coarse grain production is projected at 127,200 mt, comprising 48,000 mt of white maize and 78,400 mt of mahangu or sorghum. In addition, the winter wheat crop, to be harvested in November-December, is preliminarily forecast to be 4,000 mt - bringing the total forecast to 131,200 mt.

The projected harvest will only be able to cover just over 50 percent of the country's total domestic cereal requirements.

As a result, Namibia will need to import 146,700 mt of cereal during the 2000-2001 marketing year to cover the resultant shortfall.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa's public works minister, Stella Sigcau on Thursday said quantified audits had estimated the total flood damage in the country at US $41 million and it was still rising, media reports said.

Sigcau said the recent floods that hit the country's Northern, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces damaged houses, farms, dams, electricity, water, telephone and sewerage lines.

She said the worst-hit areas are the Mpumalanga and Northern provinces where more than 340 schools have been damaged or destroyed, as well as damage to the country's prime tourist attraction area, Kruger park, where animals suffered in the destruction estimated at US $12 million.

Sigcau, who chairs a cabinet committee charged with reconstruction of infrastructure in areas damaged by floods, said the economy had been dealt a severe blow "at a time when the government's economic policies were bearing fruit by curtailing inflation and initiating sustainable growth. Now we have to find the money to make good the damage, and use it intelligently".

She said finding the money for reconstructing flood-damaged infrastructure was still an immense problem, but added that it would be found.

(ENDS]

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