Floods in Southern Africa Update 17 Mar 2000

Catholic Relief Services has committed $450,000 in response to the emergency and the agency is working with local church partners throughout Southern Africa.
Catholic Relief Services' Response

Catholic Relief Services continues to support relief efforts in Madagascar and Zimbabwe, providing access to potable water and medical supplies.

The agency will support the establishment of a Crisis Relief Desk through the Development and Welfare Agency of the Southern Africa Bishops Conference. This effort is designed to improve the diocese's disaster response capacity.

CRS is coordinating relief efforts in Zimbabwe with the Catholic Development Education Office (CADEC) to reach approximately 10,000 beneficiaries with basic food and essential household items. CADEC will also assist with building temporary shelters for the displaced as well as helping to repair and reconstruct homes in community facilities. Additionally, the agency will continue to provide transport and administrative support to those most in need.

Catholic Relief Services' response will aim to save lives and sustain livelihoods, while strengthening civil society. " Emergency specialists are in the region and supporting our partners. Catholic Relief Services has Portuguese-speaking emergency personnel from Catholic networks within the Southern Africa region. These individuals are helping our partners respond to the emergency, and continue to reach as many people as possible," says Will Campbell, Catholic Relief Services' Southern Africa Representative.

Working with Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE partners, Catholic Relief Services is helping to organize emergency preparedness training for local church and government organizations, responding to immediate human needs for food, water, health care and shelter.

Outbreaks of cholera and malaria have become an increasing problem and all signals point to epidemic proportions as the floodwaters recede and stagnate. In addition, the agency will work with the dioceses to assist with water, sanitation and agriculture recovery. Over 500 people have died in the floods and 190 cases of Cholera have been reported.

Background of the Situation

Southern Africa is suffering from the most devastating floods in the last century. Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana have been disfigured beyond recognition and have suffered serious damage from the flood - almost all infrastructure has been reduced to mud.

The biggest threat to the more than one million people that have been displaced by the latest wave of floods is malnutrition, particularly among children. Catholic Relief Services will assist with the recovery and rebuilding stages over the long-term.

Thousands of refugee children have either lost or been separated from their parents. It will take the region decades to recover. Our local partners are completely overwhelmed and are in desperate need of assistance," explained Campbell.

The ongoing relief assistance focuses on delivering food, clean water, and medicine as the floodwaters recede. Many planes carrying food and medical supplies are still unable to fly due to heavy rains in the region over the last few days.

Agency History

Catholic Relief Services has had a regional office based in Harare, Zimbabwe since 1989 and has been working with local Catholic partners in the region for more than 10 years.

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