Tanzania: Flooding in Zanzibar Minor Emergency Bulletin No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
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In Brief


Note: The flooding in Zanzibar was initially reported on via Information Bulletin no. 1 dated 22 April 2005 - http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf_appeals.pl?rpts05/tz050422.pdf. As DREF has been allocated (above), this response is considered a Minor Emergency and will be reported on using the Minor Emergency format.

The situation

In April, the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar was affected by the heaviest rains in the last 40 years. A two-day uninterrupted downpour, on 17 April, lead to severe flooding in the low lying areas of the island. The Urban West r e gion in the locations (wards) of Mwanakelekwe, Jang'ombe, Sebuleni, Kwahani, Mombasa and Miembeni were particularly by floods. The situation was made worse by the failure of the drainage system to accommodate the flood waters. Most of the drains were blocked by uncollected solid waste and the presence of buildings along the storm water channels.

One person died in the disaster which saw some 800 houses being submerged by waters. A total of 1,758 families or 10,548 people were directlyaffe cted. M any of them are homeless or displaced.Mos t of the flood victims have been accommodated by relatives and their neighbours. Some 148 individuals are sheltered in two local primary schools buildings (108 in one and 40 in the other). Those living on the school grounds benefit from direct assistance, whereas the majority of those accommodated by neighbours and relatives have not received any form of support.

Few families ventured to move back in their damaged houses and their safety remains a concern because the structural stability of the houses has not been verified and appropriate vector control measures have not been conductedt o minimise the likelihood of contracting diseases due to the waste water contamination and solid waste management.

The floods also caused a significant loss to the infrastructure, badly damaging a bridge in the southern locations. The road system was also affected and some parts remained impassable until the flood water subsided.

The water supply services were disrupted by the flooding. The supply system which is relian t on five boreholes suffered damages to the pumping system as well as overhead pollution arising from heavily polluted water.

Two cases of cholera have been reported but no disease outbreaks have been reported by the Health authorities. The health of the population is still at great risk from the heavily polluted waters in residential areas.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action taken so far

At the national society's request the Federation's regional delegation has sent in a senior officer to support their Headquarter/Zanzibar branch team to conduct a rapid assessment. The Red Cross branch coordinator also attended regular emergency meetings called by the Chief Ministers' Office.

The Federation allocated CHF 80,000 from its disaster relief emergency fund (DREF) and supported the Tanzania Red Cross headquarters in Dar-es-Salaam to organize an airlift of essential non-food relief items for 1,000 families as well as water treatment chemicals. These items are being distributed to those families that have so far been missed out by the ongoing relief activities.

Action by others

Local authorities have conducted an initial assessment of the situation. The government issued a revised appeal for food and non-food items amounting to USD 7.5 million. Out of this appeal, about USD 450,000 is needed to purchase drugs and ensure provision of health services, while another USD 500,000 are allocated for water supply services. The food items sought in the appeal include rice, red beans, sugar, wheat flour and cooking oil. The non-foodi tems required were essentially water treatment chemicals and medical supplies.

The government, which coordinating the relief response to the victims through th e Chief Minister's Office, has also indicated its intention of mobilising the necessary resources to carry out a major clean up campaign which will include draining off the stagnant waters. Repair work on most of the damaged roads has started. Families hosted in schools have received cash from the government equivalent to USD 2.

Even with little resources at their disposal, the Ministry of Water has been able to disinfect the major boreholes supplying water to the affected areas. Nonetheless, the current supply level represents only half of the quantities. The public health department has also been monitoring the health situation of the affected population housed in the camps.

Some primary schools have been closed in the island during the voters' registration process ahead of an electoral campaign. This allowed for the accommodation of flood victims in school premises. There are now plans to relocate 108 people hosted in one primary school in order to allow normal school learning to resume.

UNICEF has been providing food, sanitation facilities, mosquito nets and water to the families accommodated in the schools. The water packages include water for washing which is stored in small storage tanks. Bottled water is distributed for drinking. The UN agency has undertaken t o supply water treatment chemicals based on clear r e quirements from the Ministry of Water.

On 26 April the government nform i ed relief organisations that they have enough food supplies for the families housed in the two schools and took over the responsibility for food delivery from UNICEF. The UNDP office has indicated that they have a cash donation of USD 50,000 for the relief response and has assigned a disaster management specialist to assist in strengthening the assessment capacity of the Chief Ministers' Office. WHO is willing to support the relief needs in the areas of water and health based on a clear needs list from the government.

Care International has also supported the affected people in the camps with mosquito nets and made a cash donation of USD 5,000. The Aga Khan Foundation has contributed USD 21,000 to the government's appeal for Zanzibar flood victims. Local businessmen have also extended their support to the call for assistance, mostly in the form of small cash support.

The needs

In Zanzibar, even in normal conditions, only 60% of the population has access to safe water. A significant number of wells and other boreholes remain a potential source for disease outbreaks due to lack of adequate supplies of chlorine to carry out disinfection activities. Routine chlorination is yet to be administered. A practical danger for contamination exists even from safe boreholes as the pipe system is broken in several sections and intrusion of pollutants is immin ent. More pumping units have to be repaired and the piping network needs to be fixed in the broken sections.

There is an urgent need for cooking utensils, bed nets, blankets,j erry cans, water purification tablets and other water and sanitation support. Humanitarian organizations have expressed concern that the Chief Minister's office needs to update the figures on the needs and the amount of support provided as well as re-assessing the affected population figures, especially on the families which have been accommodated by their neighbours and relatives.

Proposed Plan of Action

Overall Objective: To provide non-food relief items to i n flood-affected communities and contribute to reducing morbidity linked to poor sanitation and lack of access to clear water

Objective 1: To provide bed nets, cooking utensils, blankets to 1,000 families (approximately 6,000 beneficiaries).


Develop selection criteria that defines the most vulnerable communities to receive assistance.

Survey households to dentif y he t exact needs of t h e 1,000 families/households targeted, with the support of l o cal administrative structures.

Distribute cooking utensils, bed nets, blankets, etc

Expected Results

1. Compile a census register that reflects the needs of the most vulnerable in the communities targeted for relief assistance.

2. Relief items (blankets, utensils, bed nets, water purification tablets) distributed to 1,000 families.

Objective 2: To prevent morbidity and reduce vulnerability from water-related diseases and poor environmental sanitation.


Distribute water treatment tablets (chlorine tabs) to 1,000 families.

Distribute of ARCHI volunteer toolkits and dissemination of relevant health and hygiene messages.

Present health and hygiene sensitization meetings with community members on household safe water and sound hygiene practices, in collaboration with the public health authority.

Support the Ministryo f Water personnel to disinfect water wells and boreholes.

Implement clean-up campaigns with support of Public Health Ministry and Zanzibar Municipality.

Expected Results

1. Targetedc ommunities have adequate water treatment chemicals at household level for one month.

2. Households are aware of the safe water cycle and are effectively using the supplied water treatment chemicals.

3. Communities are aware of health risks from use of unsafe water and living in a poorly managed environment.

4. There is a relative improvement in health and hygiene practices.

5. Water-borne diseases are contained and minimum water related diseases cases are reported at health centres.


All relief activities at the national level are co-ordinated by the Chief Ministers Office, which ensures that efforts are not duplicated. A relief committee has also been set up with members drawn from communication, health, agriculture, and education ministries together with the armed forces. Sector sub committees also exist.

Following the disaster, specific sector/government ministries and bodies were tasked with drawing up of needs. These needs have been consolidated together by the Chief Ministers' Office and sent out as on government appeal.

Concern has been expressed by agencies that the chief Ministers' office needs to stream line its data collection mechanism, especially in determining the exact number of affected people, assistance needed and received. This information needs to be updated on regular basis so that the agencies can focus their support to existing gaps. The capacity of the Chief Ministers' office needs to be strengthened especially in the areas of assessment and information management.

The Red Cross is part of the relief committee and coordinates closely its activities at regional and national level with UN agencies.

Budget outline

The initial timeframe for this response is estimated at three months (until end of July 2005).

The Federation allocated CHF 80,000 from its disaster relief emergency fund (DREF) to support this response; see summary budget below. The situation on the ground points to the need for increased financial support to the Tanzanian Red Cross flood response operation in Zanzibar. To this effect, additional DREF may be requested at a later stage.

Budget category
Non-food items (NFI)
Airlift of NFI
National society staff costs (distribution etc).
Capacity building / training
Regional delegation support
Programme support recovery (6.5% of total)
80, 000

For information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Tanzania: Adam Kimbisa, Secretary General, Tanzania Red Cross National Society, Dar-es-Salaam; Email logistics@raha.com; Phone +; Fax +

In Kenya: Reidar Schaanning, Federation Programme Coordinator, East Africa Regional Delegation, Nairobi; Email ifrcke69@ifrc.org; Phone +; Fax +; and Steve Penny, Disaster Management Coordinator, East Africa Regional Delegation, Nairobi; Email ifrcke78@ifrc.org; Phone +

In Geneva: Josse Gillijns, Federation Regional Officer for East Africa, Africa Dept.; Email josse.gillijns@ifrc.org; Phone +41.22.730.4224; Fax +41.22.733.0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's 2005 Annual Appeal, East Africa sub-regional programmesno. 05AA004 ( Tanzania is not currently part of this Appeal, but is projected for inclu sion during 2005) - http://www.ifrc.org/cgi/pdf_appeals.pl?annual05/05AA004.pdf. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, pleasea lso access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org.