WFP's top priority remains reaching and feeding an estimated 650,000 people, both the internally displaced living in 121 camps throughout south and central Mozambique and those who have returned to their homes. However, heavy rains continue to hamper deliveries of aid by road.
In light of continued unpredictable weather and the gradual reduction of available military aircraft, WFP is urgently appealing to the international community for 13 helicopters and 5 fixed-wing aircraft to ensure emergency aid deliveries continue without a break.
"We had hoped that the heavy rains would cease," said Georgia Shaver, Maputo-based WFP Regional Manager for southern Africa. "This would allow us to repair the roads and switch from air to truck deliveries. Unfortunately, over the next month, we will continue to rely on aircraft as the main life-line for reaching hundreds of thousands of flood victims."
Since the floods hit Mozambique in early February, WFP has used trucks, boats, helicopters and aircraft to deliver 4,000 metric tons of food. Almost half of the food has been delivered by air due to the lack of road access.
Yesterday, more rain north of the capital city of Maputo, blocked access on the key transport route from Palmeiras to Macia. In addition, last week more flooding shut down the main transport route in the central region running from Beira to Save causing two major breaks on the road.
The new special operation is in support of the appeal being issued today by the United Nations System and the Government of Mozambique for emergency assistance and rehabilitation for flood victims. This latest appeal brings the total WFP funding requirement to $54.1 million dollars for food, transport, re-settlement and infrastructure rehabilitation.
WFP, the world's biggest food aid agency, made its first appeal on February 24, after days of heavy rain and tropical cyclones had left thousands of people in the Save and Limpopo river valleys stranded on trees and rooftops desperately trying to escape rising flood waters. The agency described it as "a flood unmatched in the country's recorded history both for its extent and destruction."
A dramatic joint international air operation that included WFP helicopters saved some 16,000 people from possible drowning.