UN appeals for urgent aid to help hundreds of thousands of Mozambican flood victims

9 February 2007

Floods across southern Africa are wreaking havoc for hundreds of thousands of people caught by rising waters that have washed away crops, homes and claimed the lives of dozens of people, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported today, calling on the international community for speedy aid to alleviate the suffering.

Floods across southern Africa are wreaking havoc for hundreds of thousands of people caught by rising waters that have washed away crops, homes and claimed the lives of dozens of people, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported today, calling on the international community for speedy aid to alleviate the suffering.

“We have been using pre-positioned stocks to respond to the floods across the region but the severity of flooding in Mozambique will require urgent additional funding,” WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa Amir Abdulla said in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“Our response in the region is hampered by a critical funding shortage and the need is now most acute in Mozambique. With the situation likely to worsen in the coming days, we are going to need the full support of the international community,” he added.

WFP plans to launch an appeal early next week to support Mozambican Government efforts to contain the crisis. The appeal is expected to include food aid, air operations to participate in the rescue and delivery of relief supplies, and telecommunications to facilitate the government’s coordination of the humanitarian response.

It is estimated that some 285,000 Mozambicans may need food aid for the next few months as many have had to flee the rising flood waters, leaving behind their meagre possessions and food stocks. WFP already faces a critical shortfall in funding for all its operations in southern Africa, requiring $105 million to the end of this year.

While it is too early to predict the impact on agricultural production across the region, crops are currently in their peak growing and development period ahead of the April/May harvest. Early estimates are that 15,000 hectares of crops have been lost in Mozambique.

Flooding has also affected Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. WFP has rolled out responses across the region, but the full effect of the flooding in Mozambique is likely to be delayed due to it being the main repository for water from several countries.

The worst flooding is in central Mozambique. Persistent heavy rains there and in neighbouring Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the last three weeks have flooded the Zambezi, Chire and Rivubue rivers. The Lower Zambezi in Mozambique, which is 800 kilometres long, has been above alert levels for nearly a week.

The Government has deployed the military to help evacuate people from the worst-affected areas and WFP has already begun distributing 300 metric tons of pre-positioned emergency food rations to 2,000 people gathered in centres in Mutara, one of the worst-affected areas.

Since early December, floods have destroyed more than 4,600 homes, 100 schools and four health centres, and displaced 46,500 people, killing 29. Several primary and dozens of secondary roads are underwater, isolating many communities.

In addition, heavy rains in Zambia during the whole of January filled the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique’s Tete Province above capacity levels and the outflow is likely to worsen flooding in the Zambezi River basin to levels not seen since the catastrophic floods of 2000 and 2001.

 

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