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As Waters Recede, More Mozambicans Seek Flood Aid

In Mozambique, more than 80 camps have been set up to help tens of thousands of people displaced or affected by recent floods.

Tuesday, relief officials made a surprise discovery: the village of Ndere, which had been isolated by the floods and no one knew about it. VOA correspondent Scott Bobb is in central Mozambique. From the town of Caia, he told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the discovery.

“The village was discovered by accident almost. Helicopters flying relief supplies just happened to fly over a large group of these straw shelters. And there were no plastic tents, no sheeting over them, which is an indication that no one had reached them yet. They landed and found out they’d been cut off since the rains. So yesterday, they flew a very small contingent of some sanitation supplies, basically materials to dig latrines with. And then today they began distributing plastic sheets and they passed on the information to the people who provide emergency food. And so now this village is in the pipeline to receive food distributions down the road…. This was a village of over 4,000 people and they hadn’t had anyone visit them since the crisis began in January.”

The village is located either on a Zambezi River island or at the water’s edge. “There’s no road to it,” says Bobb, “and in fact the villagers say that during about half of the year when the rainy season is here the village is cut off anyway. And even in the best of times during the drying season it’s very rare any vehicle gets there.”

Bobb reports that an aerial view of the area reveals the floods devastation. “What strikes you the most is acres and acres, hectares and hectares, kilometers and kilometers of dead mealy maize fields. Mealy maize is the staple here and these crops, which [are] like a corn crop, were submerged. And they’re all dead. So these people basically have nothing until the next harvest, which is in October. So, not only will the food distributions need to be ramped up to reach the rest of these populations, but they’ll have to continue for months and months to come,” he says.”

The VOA correspondent is on his way to the town of Chupanga, which is home to the largest of the camps for the displaced. It’s also rather isolated, requiring a two-hour truck ride off the main road. The camp holds more than 8,000 people, with more coming in every day. Bobb says, “Relief officials are puzzled by this. There are two theories that I’ve heard. One is that they’re just being able to reach it because they waters have receded enough…another theory is they’ve heard there’s free food, free medical services and they want to access that.”