South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal floods: Red Cross steps up response amid mounting humanitarian needs

Pretoria/Nairobi/Geneva, 26 April 2022—The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an 8 million Swiss franc emergency appeal to support the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) to expand the scope of their assistance as humanitarian needs continue to outpace available resources.

eThekwini municipality in the east coast of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) was pummeled by rains on the weekend of 10 April. The meteorological department has stated that this is one of the heaviest floods recorded in a day in 60 years and has left a trail of destruction on human life, private property and infrastructure. The devastating floods have claimed over 400 lives so far. Over 50 people are unaccounted for, as search and rescue efforts continue. Damage to property and infrastructure is estimated to amount to billions of rands. Once the water subsided, thousands have been left without livelihoods and homes.

Ruth van Rooyen, Senior Disaster Management Officer, IFRC Country Cluster Delegation for Southern Africa said:

“The communities affected by the floods were already vulnerable due to the recent civil unrest and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had left many households without a source of income. Just as they were trying to rebuild, another disaster hit. Humanitarian aid is stretched, and partnerships are greatly needed as we support communities in their rebuilding process. This appeal aims to help communities build back better and regain the hope lost as they watched their lives washed away by the torrents of water.”

According to national authorities, 123,808 people were affected, 448 people have died and over 30,000 are displaced, mostly in collective evacuation centers. Several dozens of people remain missing and unaccounted for. Rescue teams, including South Africa Red Cross Society volunteers, have been mobilized to the affected areas to search for the missing and bring others to safety

In the immediate aftermath of the floods, the IFRC released 330,000 Swiss francs (R5 351 866) from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) to help SARCS rapidly respond and provide immediate assistance to more than 7,500 people (over 1,500 households). To respond to the greater needs, the emergency appeal will allow SARCS to support a total of 30,000 people (6,000 households) with various relief activities in evacuation centres to enable early recovery in affected communities. Families with severely damaged homes and those who are economically vulnerable having lost their livelihoods and lacking alternative coping mechanisms to meet their basic needs will be the main targeted groups. Particular attention will be given to homeless women and children.

SARCS staff and volunteers have been mobilized and continue to respond to communities after floods hit. They have provided hot meals, psychosocial support, and the protection of family links to affected individuals. Red Cross teams have also distributed mattresses and provided first aid to displacement centres.

For more information, please contact:

Sindisiwe Mkhize (Communications Support): sindisiwe.mkhize@ifrc.org