Southern Africa: Flood Updates, 03/04/01

Southern Africa: Flood Updates, 03/04/01

Southern Africa: Flood Updates Date distributed (ymd): 010304 Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Southern Africa Issue Areas: +economy/development+ Summary Contents: This posting contains several documents related to recent new floods in Southern Africa, particularly Mozambique: (a) an update from the UN's Integrated Regional Information Network, (b) a short article by Joe Hanlon, author with Frances Christie of a book just published on the floods in Mozambique last year, and (c) the official appeal from the government of Mozambique for international assistance.

A related posting today contains the executive summary of the chapter on Africa from a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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APIC Note:

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UNITED NATIONS Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Southern Africa

Tel: +27 11 880 4633; Fax: +27 11 880 1421; e-mail:

SOUTHERN AFRICA: IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 8 covering the period 24 February - 2 March 2001 [excerpts]

[This item is delivered in the "africa-english" service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.]



Heavy rains continued to lash the region this week, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless in Mozambique, and causing concern in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. News reports said at least 52 people had died as a result of the floods in Mozambique, which had been hardest hit. Another 81,000 had been left homeless. AP reported that on Friday a South African air force cargo plane had arrived at Beira airport and delivered equipment before heading back to Pretoria. Four helicopters and three planes from South Africa to be used in the aid operation were expected to arrive later in the day. News reports said that about 60,000 people, who were not in immediate danger, needed to be evacuated.

For more details:


A UN spokeswoman in Mozambique told IRIN on Tuesday that a warning by Zambia that it may be forced to open spillway gates on the Kariba dam would be "disastrous" for Mozambique, battling with rising flood waters downstream in the Zambezi valley. The spokeswoman for the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Mozambique, Frances Christie, told IRIN that Mozambique's Cahora Bassa dam had reached peak capacity and had increased its discharge rate into the Zambezi river valley to 9,000 cubic metres a second, up from 7,500 cubic metres. If more water from Kariba entered Cahora Bassa, more would have to be discharged "and that's just going to make the situation downriver disastrous", she said. The 'Times of Zambia' reported Celestino Chibamba, deputy minister of energy and water development as saying on Monday: "We sympathize with our Mozambican counterpart, but the danger is that if the water is not discharged from the dam, we fear that the damage to be done to the dam might result in ... lots of disasters." He added that the Zambian government would try to help minimise the impact on Mozambique.


Malawian government officials held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the floods that have killed five people and driven some 200,000 from their homes during the past week, AFP reported. Antony Livuza, government chief information officer, said the cabinet committee on disaster preparedness, relief and rehabilitation "will work out strategies to mobilise resources and how to transport relief items to the affected areas." Lucius Chikuni, Malawi's government commissioner of relief and rehabilitation, said the country would require about US $1.5 million just for emergency relief to the affected areas in the south. On Wednesday news reports said at least 20 people had died from cholera since heavy rains had flooded parts of eastern and southern Malawi.

For more details:


The floods that hit the northeastern Muzarabani region of Zimbabwe last week pose a serious health threat, raising fears of a major cholera and malaria outbreak in the Zambezi valley, the independent 'Daily News' said on Wednesday. Goldberg Mangwadu, the provincial environmental health officer in Mashonaland Central was quoted as saying that health personnel were last week deployed to the Zambezi valley to assess the health needs of the flood-hit areas. "The floods provide breeding ground for mosquitoes while all the water sources such as boreholes were washed away, raising fears of a cholera outbreak because the people have no alternative for clean water sources," said Mangwadu. Meanwhile, Madzudzo Pawadyira, the director of the National Civil Protection Unit was quoted as saying that donor funds had started to trickle in for the flood victims. "We have dispatched vehicles that provide water purification tablets to avoid a possible outbreak of diarrhoeal and cholera diseases," said Pawadyira.


Friday, 2 March, 2001 Mozambique: Prepared but overwhelmed

Rescue efforts combine local and international expertise By Joseph Hanlon, co-author of a new book on last year's Mozambique floods

As floodwaters rise on the Zambezi, Mozambique's navy has picked up more than 8,000 stranded people using rubber boats donated by the international community for last year's floods.

This is the second year of major flooding, and a similar pattern is emerging.

Both this year and last year, predictions of heavy rain led to flood warnings and extensive preparation by the Mozambican government, local non-government organisations such as the Red Cross, and United Nations agencies such as the World Food Programme.

But Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and record-breaking floods soon exhaust the capacity of the government - and of neighbouring countries.

International help is needed to provide fuel for the boats and helicopters, and to provide tents, food and clean water for the tens of thousands who are forced to flee to high ground.

Media images

Dramatic television pictures and appeals for help by international agencies tend to present a picture of helplessness.

But they miss the extensive preparation and organisation which had already been done at local level.

Research for my book on last year's floods pointed to three months of preparation, which provided an essential foundation and infrastructure for the massive international support.

Local input

The result was remarkably successful international cooperation, with human, material and financial international aid providing vital help to the Ministry of Health, Red Cross and local government who were already in action dealing with huge numbers of displaced people.

One improvement on last year is an increased participation by the Mozambican military.

Last year the Mozambican military rescued 17,000 people, but with very few boats and no helicopters. This year, the boats donated by the international community for last year's flood were put to use quickly.

Mozambique's air force has only two helicopters, but this year, because of the advance warnings, both were serviced and ready to fly, and are now in use for rescue and reconnaissance.

Rescue efforts

In the same way as last year, many people are currently refusing to abandon their homes and cattle even though they are being given adequate warning.

As the water rises, some of these need to be rescued.

But the South African helicopters and planes now arriving in Mozambique will mainly be used to get food and other supplies to the tens of thousands of people forced to flee to high ground.

In many cases they are camped in places totally cut off by floodwaters from access by road and can only be supplied by air.

With a record flood in a very poor country, international help is essential. But that help is only effective because of local organisation.

"Mozambique and the Great Flood of 2000" by Joe Hanlon and Frances Christie is available from James Currey Publishers, at 11.95 pounc (about $18) plus postage. Contact or or phone +44 (0)1865 24 64 54.


Special Appeal by the Government of Mozambique to deal with floods in the centre of the country - 2001

February 22, 2001

Executive Summary

[For full report and additional updates see]

The forecast made by the Southern African Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) last September of normal to above-normal rainfall in the centre of Mozambique during the 2000/2001 rainy season has proved correct. The country has been facing an emergency situation since 23 January, initially in Zambezia Province and then in northern parts of Sofala Province, resulting from the passage of a tropical storm.

The situation then spread to Tete and Manica provinces, because of heavy rainfall in the country, discharge from dams on the Zambezi River and increased flows on its tributaries. Thus districts in four provinces have been affected in the Zambezi Valley.

As a result of the combined effects of the rain and the floods, some 77,000 people have been displaced and about 389,000 in the four provinces are affected. Moreover, by 19 February the number of confirmed deaths stood at 41.

Many roads in the centre of the country have become impassable, wells in rural and peri-urban areas have been flooded and the sanitary conditions in urban centres have deteriorated.

Immediately following the SARCOF forecast, the government began working on the preparation of a contingency plan, in partnership with the United Nations, donors and NGOs. From October to December 2000 public awareness campaigns were conducted in areas at risk and the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) and the World Food Programme (WFP) positioned stocks of food and relief goods, including boats, in strategic locations.

Besides heavy rains inside Mozambique itself, neighbouring Malawi and Zambia have also experienced torrential rain, producing enormous volumes of water that increased the flows in the Zambezi, Pungoe, Revubue and Ligonha Rivers.

While it is not expected that floods this year will reach the scale of 2000, nevertheless conditions must be prepared in the affected districts to avoid this emergency from becoming a catastrophe. Floods increase the risk of outbreaks of disease, such as cholera, and of higher incidence of malaria. The health authorities estimate that US$ 5.9 million will be needed to replenish stocks of essential drugs, to provide basic health services in the accommodation centres, and to support epidemiological surveillance and preventive response.

Moreover, torrential rain and floods have damaged roads and bridges, which must be repaired to allow access to isolated communities. Some US$ 6.4 million is required for road and bridge repair.

Furthermore, displaced people need to be sheltered and fed while they are in accommodation centres. The cost of supplying blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen kits and other essential relief items is estimated at US$3.6 million.

With regard to fuel needs, the cost of this is estimated at US$3.0 million, to cover requirements for rescue and relief operations and for electricity generation in areas isolated by the floods. This sum includes generators of varying power that will be needed to ensure electricity supplies to hospitals, accommodation centres, water pumping stations and communications centres.

Clean water supplies and good sanitary and hygiene conditions are also vital to ensure that displaced people remain healthy. The requirements for the provision of safe water and sanitation and the promotion of good hygiene amount to US$2,400,000.

The economic and social effects of this excessive rainfall have likewise been huge. Preliminary estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development indicate that about 33,300 peasant farming families have been affected, with the loss of 22,400 hectares of crops, mainly maize, rice and cassava. The cost of providing seeds and tools so that farmers can plant a second crop is estimated at US$2.3 million. The Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development is already in contact with donors and part of these funds have already been allocated.

The funds required to enable the INGC to coordinate emergency operations, monitor and evaluate the situation on the ground, produce and disseminate information on the development of the situation and coordinate alert and warning systems with the National Meteorological Institute (INAM) and the Ministry of Public Works & Housing, as well ensuring flexible mechanisms to allow people and goods to enter the country in the context of humanitarian assistance, amount to US$700,000. However, the estimate could rise if conditions deteriorate sharply. Because of the upheaval of the emergency, the government is seeking US$200,000 for social programmes among the displaced population in the accommodation centres.

The statement of needs in the Mozambique government appeal does not include food. This is because the WFP had pre-positioned food stocks in strategic locations and is still working with carry-over supplies from 2000. In fact, the requirements expressed in the appeal are in addition to assistance provided and pre-positioned by the other United Nations agencies and are part of implementing the UN Contingency planning process finalised in December 2000.

The United Nations agencies are now working on the preparation of a Consolidated Inter-agency appeal in support of the relief efforts to assist the survivors of the floods.


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2001 22:15:16 -0500 Subject: Southern Africa: Flood Updates

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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