Concern responds to worsening floods in Zambia

News and Press Release
Originally published
The Western Province of Zambia is divided by the Zambezi flood plain, known locally as the Barotse Plains. Every year the plains flood to some extent, but in late February 2007 the Zambezi exceeded the highest water levels ever recorded. This compounded previous problems in January when widespread floods destroyed the bulk of both winter and summer crops.

Food shortages

As a result, the mostly migrant population on the Barotse Plains, and the more permanent population on the outskirts of the flood plains, have been left susceptible to food shortages, widespread malnutrition and the spread of infectious water born disease, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

Flood Response

Concern is using a two-stage response to help deal with these problems. The initial stage will began in early March and consists of the following key elements:

Communication: it is essential that information reaches the affected population through local radio, informing people that migration to the uplands should not be delayed until late March, or early April (these are traditional times of the year to migrate)

Evacuation: Concern will facilitate the voluntary evacuation of households that are found to be in need. This will include the hire of boats, and cash grants to evacuated households

Surveillance: Concern, in conjunction with Oxfam and the regional office of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, will monitor and assess the needs of the most affected people, the current food supply, public health and markets. This will continue until June.

Stage Two

From the end of March, Concern will be looking to initiate the second stage of its response plan. This will consist of:

Food relief, or cash transfers, may be used. The scale of this, and the level of involvement, depends on further assessment of the situation

Recovering livelihoods: this activity, starting from late March early April, is expected to consist of distribution of vegetable seed, sweet potato and cassava cuttings which can be immediately planted along the edge of the plains or in suitable upland locations

Canal clearing for long term flood prevention: This is expected to begin in May as the waters begin to recede and continue to July / August. It will focus on the Mongu District and will attempt to comprehensively clear major and minor irrigation canals across the plains