South Africa

South Africa: Limpopo floods DREF Operation n° MDRZA006 Final


Overview of Host National Society

The National Society volunteers were deployed to affected villages since the beginning of the floods operation. The IFRC Southern Africa Regional Office (SARO) deployed a Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) member from 3 April to 2 May and the regional logistics delegate for two weeks to provide technical support on the planning and procurement process. The National Society started by doing rapid assessments in all the affected communities in order to develop the needs and intervention strategy. After the initial assessments, the overall operation target was established as being 706 households (3,525  beneficiaries) and two farms with 77 farm dwellers to be assisted with relief items. During the operation there were challenges in reaching the affected population, as some roads were cut off and some houses were still submerged in the water, which delayed the operation and response time. The relief items distributed to the affected communities include the procured 706 food parcels, 706 hygiene kits, 1,410 mosquito nets, and 1,525 blankets, as well as 100 mattresses and 98 food parcels that were donated by Eskom Power station, and 2,000 blankets donated by Metropolitan. During implementation, South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) experienced challenges around the distribution of relief items. As highlighted in the DREF operations update, this was due to community conflicts that erupted in some areas prior to distribution. As such, distribution of non-food items and food- items was completed when the conflicts were adequately responded to by the local authorities. Furthermore, a lack of access to certain affected communities that lived in flooded areas delayed some distributions, but all distributions were completed at the end of April and all beneficiaries were reached. In total, the operation reached 706 households.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in the country

Since the disaster struck, SARCS has been actively taking part in supporting the affected community together with the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), Disaster Management Centre (DMC) and local NGOs. American Red Cross gave support through providing technical assistance. The IFRC’s SARO disaster management coordinator and finance officer were deployed to the country to assist SARCS in the set-up of the operation prior to the deployment of the RDRT member. The NDMC and the Department of Treasury allocated funds to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure, including bridges, roads and affected households. Service providers were appointed and started the rehabilitation work in different affected municipalities. IFRC continued to support and coordinate with SARCS throughout the response. The coordination structure in place included the Programme Coordinator for Southern African Region (IFRC), the National Disaster Manager (SARCS), and the Provincial Manager (Limpopo). A letter of agreement was signed between the parties. The IFRC zone office has been in contact with the NDMC, PDMC and DMC to introduce the interventions and build relations for SARCS with the government. Coordination meetings were held daily with PDMC to share information and discuss operational developments. The local authorities also supported the NS with vital resources such as storage, vehicles and personnel.

Overview of non-RCRC actors in country

During the floods operation, the South African Government was involved in assisting with personnel, fleet and assessments. Local NGOs, such as the Gift of Givers, supported the affected communities by providing relief items. The private sector also played a big role in the operation as they made contributions by donating relief items to the national society, such as blankets, mattresses and food parcels. A coordination mechanism was put in place, the Joint Operation Committee (JOC), and all flood relief activities were done under the existing structures through local authorities. Local authorities were informed of activities conducted as part of the DREF both prior to, during and after implementation. Unfortunately some agencies distributed relief items without consulting or informing the JOC and as a result it jeopardized the operation in a sense that those not affected by the floods was handed out relief items and caused an uproar in the community. Law enforcement had to be called in to bring stability in the area. Measures were put in place that no persons or organisation would go into the areas without consulting with PDMC or SARCS. This matter was raised sharply in the lesson learned workshop as a matter for improvement in the future.

Needs analysis and scenario planning

An assessment was completed on 28 March 2014 to determine the evolving needs of the population affected. The findings from the assessment showed that the majority of people at evacuation camps had returned to their households due to the water subsiding. Only eight families were still remaining at the evacuation centre. These families moved back to their houses by the end of June 2014. To support needs and beneficiary identification, SARCS deployed a team of 75 volunteers who were engaged for a period of 20 days to Lephalale District to conduct an assessment and a relief distribution exercise. The activities included recording of addresses, contact numbers, names and identification methods for all beneficiaries.

The National Society continued to review the beneficiary list and expand its support to additional families who met the criteria with the excess items available. After the assessment was completed, the operational  plan was revised to focus on the distribution of dry rations instead of wet rations (cooked meals) due to families moving back to their permanent dwellings. Dry rations included tinned fish, rice, samp, meal-meal, sugar beans, iodate salt, cooking oil, peanut butter and tea. The budget was adjusted accordingly to substitute the dry rations where cooked meals were originally planned. The proposed revision did not hamper the timeframe of the operation or overall budget.

Risk Analysis

During the operation, the affected areas continued to be flooded, which in some instances hampered the operation due to insufficient weather forecasting information. Other factors that delayed the operation were inaccessibility of roads to the affected areas, as some roads were cut off. In order for the National Society to mitigate this, the community and the local authorities were engaged to update them about the progress. The National Society managed to secure storage and trucks from the governments for the safe keeping of relief items. The continuous monitoring by staff and volunteers did not find any secondary effects of floods during the operation period. Only three cases of malaria where reported during the floods, all in Lephalale, and were treated by the Witpoort Hospital in Thabo Mbeki Village.