Zimbabwe: Flooding worsens recovery prospects

JOHANNESBURG, 3 March (IRIN) - Flooding last week in the northern parts of food insecure Zimbabwe may have worsened the prospects for recovery, Save the Children warned on Monday.
Heavy flooding affected some 6,000 people in the Muzarabani district, with homes swamped and crops washed away.

"While the immediate rains have ceased in the areas, there are worries that further precipitation could occur later this week as a result of the tropical storm that is now sitting over Mozambique," said Chris McIvor, programme director for Save the Children UK in Zimbabwe.

"The people in this area are extremely vulnerable, since they traditionally plant along stream beds and flood plains in order to maximise their harvest. Two people died in the floods last week. If the rainfall increases, more could be affected, either through having their houses washed away or through the health problems that arise from contaminated wells and boreholes. The next few weeks will require careful monitoring of the situation by all concerned, so that the plight of people in this area is not worsened," he added.

Provincial and local authorities had contacted Save the Children last week to appeal for assistance in responding to the floods.

"Arising from the assistance that Save the Children had provided in 2001 to similar floods, we were asked to contribute again in whatever way we could. By the following morning some 60 mt of relief materials had arrived in the area, ready for distribution the same day," the development agency said in a statement.

Between Friday and Monday, food for 6,000 people affected by the flooding was distributed in three affected wards in Muzarabani. This comprised 30 mt of maize meal, 6 mt of sugar beans and 3,000 bottles of oil. Enough to provide 75 percent of a standard ration for beneficiaries for two weeks.

A senior manager from the Save the Children Emergency Response Team arrived in Muzarabani last Thursday and was coordinating the agency's response with the district administrator, civil protection unit and local authorities in the area.

A Save the Children food security team will also assess the impact of the floods on food security of the affected areas, in order to suggest recovery and support strategies.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported that a helicopter had been sent to the area at the weekend with food and clothes, as bridges had been rendered impassable by the rains.


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