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Floods Displace More than 60,000 in Mozambique

Widespread flooding is reported in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi – and humanitarian agencies are rushing aid to those in need. Mozambique is one of the hardest hit countries.

World Vision is among the groups providing help. From Maputo, Chance Briggs, World Vision’s program director in Mozambique, gave VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua an update on the flooding.

“Mozambique has 11 provinces and right now four of those provinces have been affected in parts. They are Sofala, Zambezia, Tet and Manica. It affects mostly the tributaries of the Zambezi River, which is a basin that has nine countries attached to it. We’ve got about 135,000 people who have been affected in some ways. They either lost their homes or lost their crops or other parts of their livelihoods. And almost 60,000 people have now been displaced, with fortunately only seven people dead,” he says.

Some reports say the Zambezi River could reach the record levels it did during the floods of 2000/2001. Briggs says, “I’m not a water specialist, but there are a lot of fears that it could reach those levels or exceed those levels. The floods have come early this year. We have both a La Nina climatic effect, as well as a tropical inversion. And both of those tend to dump water. In 2000, there were three cyclones that hit Mozambique within a relatively short period and that’s what caused a lot of those floods. The cyclone season has just started. None have formed and moved towards Mozambique yet, but we can’t predict what will happen.”

World Vision is feeding about 60,000 people in Mozambique with aid provided by the World Food Program. It’s also providing material to build shelters for about 3,000 displaced people. Plans are also being made in the event the flooding gets worse, including providing drinking water and sanitation, as well as education for displaced children.

Briggs says lessons were learned from the 2000/2001 floods. “An agency like ours has to learn lessons. We’re committed to that. If we don’t we’ll just repeat the same mistakes. And moreover, I should say that Mozambique as a nation has taken on a lot of lessons. They’ve created something called the National Disaster Management Institute and they’re really taking the lead here. And the donor countries and the NGOs, like World Vision, are working very closely with the government. The government has built a lot of capacity since 2000 and so far they have not had to ask for an international appeal, although that may happen in the future. We hope not,” he says.

Briggs says that of the seven record deaths so far, four were from drowning and three from crocodile attacks.