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Red Cross Visits Zambia Flood Areas

Zambia is one of the southern African countries affected by torrential rains and floods. Exact figures are not available yet, but it’s believed thousands of people have been displaced or otherwise affected so far. Officials expect that figure to climb much higher.

Reporter Sanday Kabange went on a tour of some flooded areas in southern Zambia Thursday with the Red Cross. He spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“We have seen people crammed in small tents. They actually fit about six people…. They’re saying the tents are not enough. We have seen about 1900 people stranded, nowhere to sleep…quite a horrible sight. We are with the Red Cross society…and they’re trying to provide some alternative tents and a bit of food,” he says.

Charles Mushitu, secretary-general of the Zambian Red Cross, is touring a town in the Mazabuka District, which is the worst hit area in the current flooding so far.

“Over 70 families have been displaced here. There is now danger for an outbreak (of disease) or an epidemic because I think there I[are] poor sanitary conditions, poor water and sanitation. People have no food. No bedding because everything was washed away in those flash floods. So, what the Red Cross has done so far, we have already provided some blankets, some food, some chlorine, cooking oil, mosquito nets and other kitchen utensils in order for them to survive in this interim phase,” he says.

He says visiting the flood areas helps the Red Cross and other agencies formulate a longer-term strategy for humanitarian aid.

“So far, the situation, I can describe it as pathetic because the dignity of the people affected has been eroded,” Mushitu says. Government officials say up to 1.5 million people will eventually be affected by the floods.

Reporter Kabange says the floodwaters are waist high, covering fields of maize, which are turning yellow. He says that people were unprepared for the floods, even building houses right on the riverbanks. He says that one reason they may have been caught off guard is that this part of southern Zambia has not flooded in at least 50 years. The region has been more closely associated with drought.