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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid