Heavy rains continue to cause flooding in Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, as rivers overflow. Some reports say as many as 40 people in the region have been killed and many thousands have been displaced.
Reporter Sanday Kabange is following developments in Zambia, where President Levy Mwanawas has declared a state of national disaster. From Lusaka, he told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua that Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa saw the damage first-hand Thursday.
“The president was actually trying to tour the southern part of the country that has been…severely hit by the floods and torrential rains. He’s asking the international community to help Zambia deal with the flood disaster, which has left thousands homeless and of course in dire need of…food and aid. He...resounded (repeated) his earlier call for the international community to come to the aid of Zambia…. He says that the government alone cannot respond to the damage being caused by the floods.”
The government’s Disaster Management Unit and the Red Cross have set up a $250 million contingency fund to be used to acquire emergency shelters, such as tents, and food kits.
He says that non-governmental organizations and civil society are saying, “Government is supposed to actually declare the flood situation in Zambia a national disaster so that it can seek the support of bigger organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Food Program, UNICEF, maybe World Vision and the Red Cross, if the government cannot respond on its own to this situation.”
Damage is described as severe to Zambian roads, farms, schools and some rural medical centers. Officials estimate floods may eventually displace 1.5 million people in Zambia. Kabange says that two days ago, the eastern part of Zambia, which is rich in farmland, was cut off from the rest of the country as bridges washed out. The government has sent experts to the area to see whether a temporary crossing can be built to ensure the flow of goods and services.