WFP makes fresh international appeal for Mozambique

ROME - The United Nations World Food Programme today launched a new appeal for nearly US$34 million to help feed the hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans left homeless by what the agency described as "a flood unmatched in the country's recorded history both for its extent and destruction".
The appeal includes US$28.4 million to provide emergency food rations for an estimated 650,000 flood-affected people for the next six months and an additional US$5.3 million to support airlift operations and costs for rebuilding the country's devastated infrastructure.

WFP, the world's leading 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 clinging to trees and stranded on rooftops, desperate to escape rising flood waters.

WFP's latest appeal raises the total funding requirement for Mozambique to US$45.2 million. WFP has received US$13 million to cover the initial needs.

"Thanks to the generosity and quick reactions of governments, private individuals and other NGOs, we were able to assemble and co-ordinate a dramatic search and rescue mission that saved thousands of lives," said Georgia Shaver, Maputo-based WFP regional manager for southern Africa.

Now, as floodwaters slowly recede, the true extent of the devastation left by Cyclones Connie and Eline is emerging and WFP's emergency operation is entering its most delicate stage.

The search and rescue phase is winding down and WFP is turning its attention to delivering relief supplies to thousands of Mozambicans who have lost their homes, livelihoods and, in many cases, loved ones. Most are located in 96 transit camps, which have been set up as temporary havens for the displaced.

Whether they have spent a week sheltering precariously in trees or wading for days through swollen floodwaters, these people all require shelter, medical supplies and, most important, food.

WFP is concerned that if the rains continued in the affected areas food stocks would be insufficient to meet immediate needs.

Using helicopters, airplanes, trucks and boats, WFP has delivered more than 2,200 metric tons of food aid nationwide. With rivers returning to their banks, roads and bridges slowly being opened to food trucks and 7,000 tonnes of WFP food aid stockpiled in Maputo, that figure is set to rise dramatically.

Yet, over the next six months, WFP's mission will go beyond immediate food needs. The new phase will also focus on assisting people go back to their homes as well as the emergency rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure.

As WFP assesses the immediate damage to agricultural land, it is fast becoming apparent that thousands of hectares of land in the provinces of Gaza, Inhambane, Manica, Maputo and Sofala have been almost totally lost. Even before the floods, these areas had been classified as food insecure.

"These are areas where agricultural production lasts on average three to six months. The safety-net of a second harvest simply does not exist," warned Shaver.

WFP is the United Nations' front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. In 1999 WFP fed more than 88 million people in 82 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.

For more information please contact:

Trevor Rowe, Chief Spokesman
WFP Rome
Tel. 39 06 6513-2623

Lindsey Davies
WFP Maputo
Tel. +258 82316644

Francis Mwanza
WFP Rome
Tel. +39-06-65132623

Christiane Berthiaume
WFP Geneva
Tel. +41-22-9178564