News / Africa

Mozambique Pushing to Resettle Hesitant Flood Victims

Women collect water at the Chaquelane resettlement camp near the flood hit town of Chokwe, in southern Mozambique, February 7, 2013.
Women collect water at the Chaquelane resettlement camp near the flood hit town of Chokwe, in southern Mozambique, February 7, 2013.
Mozambique’s government wants to permanently resettle people living in the flood-prone Limpopo river basin after a devastating flood swept through the area last month. 

Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina is pushing local authorities to be firm with people who want to return home - saying the risk of future floods is too great. The government is offering people plots of land on higher ground if they agree to move.  Close to 100 people died in the floods and more than 200,000 have been affected.

Thelma Zita’s home is just a few hundred meters from the banks of one of Africa’s mightiest rivers - the Limpopo.

In late January the river burst its banks, washing away everything she had. There was not time to escape.

"We just climbed onto roofs," she says. "We did not leave Guija because the water came in at night."

A week later, she gave birth to her daughter. Now, baby strapped to her back, she is cultivating what little land the slowly subsiding flood water relinquishes.

"We are just beginning to plant again," she says.  "In some fields you can’t plant because there is still water and we have to wait."  She notes resignedly that that is the way it goes and life continues.

The fertile valley is the source of much of the rice and vegetables grown in Mozambique.

Baby Rofinho was born on the night floodwaters engulfed his family's home in Guija, southern Mozambique. His mother gave birth on the roof of her house. (Jinty Jackson for VOA)Baby Rofinho was born on the night floodwaters engulfed his family's home in Guija, southern Mozambique. His mother gave birth on the roof of her house. (Jinty Jackson for VOA)
x
Baby Rofinho was born on the night floodwaters engulfed his family's home in Guija, southern Mozambique. His mother gave birth on the roof of her house. (Jinty Jackson for VOA)
Baby Rofinho was born on the night floodwaters engulfed his family's home in Guija, southern Mozambique. His mother gave birth on the roof of her house. (Jinty Jackson for VOA)
A flood alert is still in place, and the end of the rainy season is still two months away. It is risky, but Zita and her neighbors say if they don’t plant, they will go hungry.

"Nothing gets here," she says. Trucks come full of food aid, but she says it is not for them and she does not know where is goes.

Adam Ridell, with a U.S.-based Christian aid agency called Samaritan’s Purse, is helping distribute food to the area. He explains why Zita and her neighbors might not be getting food aid.

“One reason why these people may not have received food is that they are not in these accommodation centers.  We may not know they are around. It is easier if they are there. We bring the food there," he said.

Aerial views shows a road that has been washed away by flood waters in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jan. 30, 2013.Aerial views shows a road that has been washed away by flood waters in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jan. 30, 2013.
x
Aerial views shows a road that has been washed away by flood waters in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jan. 30, 2013.
Aerial views shows a road that has been washed away by flood waters in Chokwe, Mozambique, Jan. 30, 2013.
Custodia Quive is one of the nearly 70,000 people who did escape the rising water. Now she is living in a massive tented camp, run by the government and  international aid agencies.

"Everything went," she says. "I don’t have a house. I don’t have anything. Even my clothes washed away."

Now it is time to contemplate the future. The government is offering land on higher ground near the camp. It is about 29 kilometers away from the town of Chokwe, where she lived and worked before the flood.

“We want this land but we only hear talk." she said.

She says the government hasn’t given it out but she is ready to go to work there - even though it’s far and she will leave her family here.

Few men are to be found at the camp during the day. Many have already returned to the fields, or are protecting their homes and belongings in the flood zones from bandits.

Adam Ridell says the relocation process will be difficult but there seems little alternative.

Children are seen at a camp outside Chokwe, Mozambique, January 24, 2013. (VOA/J.Jackson)Children are seen at a camp outside Chokwe, Mozambique, January 24, 2013. (VOA/J.Jackson)
x
Children are seen at a camp outside Chokwe, Mozambique, January 24, 2013. (VOA/J.Jackson)
Children are seen at a camp outside Chokwe, Mozambique, January 24, 2013. (VOA/J.Jackson)
“How do you relocate 200,000 people? When it floods every five years? They did a great thing with early warning systems and people knew the water was coming," he said. "Levies broke, the water came a lot faster than they thought. A lot of people even prepared for the floods but didn’t prepare enough because they didn’t think it would be that bad. And their houses are made of mud because that is what they have, so of course it is going to get washed way in a flood.”

Experts say Mozambique, home to nine major river systems and prone to seasonal cyclones, is especially vulnerable to climate change, increasing the risk of natural disasters in the future.

The government is considering building at least one other dam on the Limpopo river - but it’s a costly undertaking for what is still one of the world’s poorest countries.

In the meantime, they hope to move enough people to higher ground to minimize the disaster, next time.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More