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Southern Africa Floods Affect Hundreds of Thousands

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported excessive rainfall is causing havoc with the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in seven Southern African countries.

The hardest hit countries are Angola and Namibia, which are experiencing the worst floods since 1963. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported in Angola, 21 people have been killed and an estimated 200,000 affected.
It said the number is likely to increase once UN aid workers are able to reach areas that currently are inaccessible because of the floods.

Official figures indicate more than 3,200 houses have been destroyed, as well as more than 100 schools. It said schools and other public buildings are being used as shelters. So, classes are interrupted.

OCHA Spokeswoman, Elizabeth Byrs, told VOA all provinces are reporting widespread destruction of crops and food reserves. She said malnutrition rates are likely to increase in the coming weeks.

"In Angola, the floods and also the elephants, which are affected by the floods also - the elephants have destroyed 180 fields where the crops were mature. The animals are going to the places where they can be safe," she said.

UN and private aid agencies on Monday issued a flash appeal for $2.75 million to support the immediate needs of up to 350,000 people affected by floods in Namibia.

OCHA reported 92 people have died and 13,000 have been displaced. It said more than 50 percent of roads have been damaged in the affected areas and this is making it extremely difficult for people to get to health facilities, schools and market places.

Byrs said concern is rising about the situation in Zambia because the heavy rains are likely to worsen a cholera epidemic in the country.

"There are up to 6,624 cases from last September until 26th of March. And, the cholera situation which had improved, we fear that because of the rain, we fear an upswing of the cholera," she said.

The outlook is not good. Byrs said the heavy rains are likely to continue for several more weeks. She said the persistent warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures over the Indian Ocean are conducive to the formation of tropical disturbances like cyclones, and flash flooding.