Bernie Fortes, WV Mozambique's Food for Development program director, reported today that World Vision was leading the non-government organization response to the floods in the hardest hit regions of Muturara in Tete Province, Caia and Chemba in Sofala Province, and Murrumbala in Zambezia Province.
The floods, caused by heavy seasonal rains, have reportedly claimed 78 lives and forced the evacuation of more than 25,000 people from marooned villages to higher ground. The estimated number of people affected currently stands at 300,000.
"Thousands of families have lost all their belongings, including food stocks. Crops and livestock have also been destroyed," Mr. Fortes said. In Muturara alone, preliminary reports indicate that 72,000 hectares of maize have been damaged by the floods.
WV Mozambique, which conducts extensive development activities in the flood zones, began distributing limited emergency rations of maize, beans and oil last week among 10,000 families in Muturara and food distributions have also commenced in Sofala and Zambezia provinces.
WV Mozambique's David Raj, who toured Muturara region with the Governor of Tete Province on 15 February, said that thousands of people had arrived by canoe in Muturara town and that they were staying in four open-air centers without basic facilities. "They are simply squatting in the area they have arrived," Mr. Raj reported. He said that apart from food, people were in immediate need of blankets and clothing to protect themselves from the weather and that health assistance was also required.
Troops from South Africa and Zimbabwe are assisting the Mozambique Government in the relief operation, conducting air evacuations and helping with the transportation of supplies into affected areas.
After touring flood zones on 24 February, Mozambique's President Joaquim Chissano issued an international appeal for US$30 million in relief assistance over the next four to five months and he asked that $1 million of that be made available for immediate interventions.
Mr. Fortes said it was likely that significant U.N. and donor government relief commitments for food, seeds and tools distribution among flood victims would be channeled through World Vision. Some 100 tons of maize has already been made available by the U.N. World Food Program for World Vision distribution and this food is waiting in Tete for airlift into the flood zones.
WV Mozambique's acting agricultural manager Renato Gordon is currently flying over the flood zones and he will return to Maputo later this week and report back to donors on the current situation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fortes will travel to Muturara on 27 February to establish a flood relief coordination office and three senior WV Mozambique staff from the Tete office have already been sent to lead the relief responses in Caia, Chemba and Muturara.
Reported by: Margaret Jephson, WVI Communications Associate Mr. Fortes will be available for interview or more information on the flood relief response via satellite telephone which he will take with him to Muturara on Thursday. The satellite phone number is 873 685 050 087. Today and tomorrow, Mr. Fortes is available in Maputo on 2581-422-922 or 2581-493-623 after hours.