Southern Africa: Flooded, beleaguered region still reeling
World Vision continues to provide emergency supplies to tens of thousands of flood-devastated children and families. (VIEW MAP)
UPDATED February 12, 2008: Zimbabwe, Zambia
By World Vision Africa Communicators
A fresh flood surge from the Zambezi River is likely to further aggravate conditions in already inundated central Mozambique, according to World Vision staff there. Deteriorating conditions threaten to overwhelm already overstretched resettlement areas, where food, water, and sanitation needs are desperate.
More than 100,000 displaced people now reside in resettlement areas scattered across the Zambezia, Sofala, Manica, Tete, and Inhambane provinces; these regions all suffer an average HIV-prevalence rate of 16.6 percent.
Due to an already staggering displaced population, many resettlement camps urgently need additional humanitarian aid to avert disease outbreaks, including waterborne illnesses. "Children are the most vulnerable to disease," says Amos Doornbos, a World Vision emergency officer. "There is a danger of acute respiratory infections, as well as malaria and cholera."
In response, our staff members have been supplying water purifiers and latrine slabs to affected areas. They also have been distributing chlorine for water purification, providing lab analyses of water sources, and conducting community health education in both affected and flood-prone areas about how to improve basic hygiene practices. These efforts help mitigate the risk of disease outbreaks.
Provision of shelter and food aid also continues. World Vision has participated in the airlifting and distribution of aid from the World Food Program, including delivery of 23 tons of food to more than 4,000 displaced people in the Mutarara resettlement areas of Tete province, where renewed flooding has submerged additional homes and displaced more residents. During last year's flooding, food aid was provided to about 60,000 people in the area.
Meanwhile, the government reports that more than 50,000 Mozambican children are at risk of having their education disrupted, because more than 100 schools are now damaged by flooding.
Zambia also has experienced flash floods recently that have struck its southern region particularly hard, destroying crops and homes and displacing 20,000 people in the Sinazongwe, Monze, and Mazabuka districts. Affected World Vision program development areas include Sinazongwe, Choongo, Magoye, Luumbo, and Chainda, in Lusaka.
Flooding has displaced an estimated 3,360 people in the Magoye program area. Some 1,250 have been evacuated to higher ground, including 500 World Vision-registered children now living in temporary shelters set up by the government and the Zambia Red Cross Society.
"I visited Magoye and Choongo program areas, and the extent of damage is significant," said Winstone Nkhoma, a World Vision staff member in Zambia. He noted that damages to homes and submerged crops would have a long-term impact upon food security. Our staff is providing emergency aid and carrying out health education campaigns in the affected areas.
"The affected families housed in the tents received blankets, food, and other basic needs," said Misheck Chiinda, a World Vision emergency officer for the Mazabuka district. "But the desire for more relief is still high because the number of the affected families is increasing, especially [since] torrential rains have continued."
Chiinda added that the area has received overwhelming support, especially with food relief. However, he cited a continued lack of adequate medicines, chlorine, blankets, warm clothes, and tents: "These are needed for immediate distribution, although we'll need more food in the next few months, as we are likely to have crop failure."
Besides damage to crops and houses, many Zambians also have lost livestock and household goods. Loss of chickens, goats, and piglets is a great blow to local community members who now have no other source of income or food supply for the next year.
Moreover, pit latrines have collapsed, raising fears of disease outbreaks. Many people are drinking from unprotected wells.
"Diarrhea and malaria cases are on the increase since the onset of the rains here," said Lilian Habasonde, a nurse at the Munenga Rural Health Center. She noted that children are coughing and developing sores on their feet from walking barefoot on wet ground.
Before the rains, Zambia was recovering from a severe grain depletion caused by drought. Now, the country's meteorological department reports the heavy rains will likely continue and that northern Zambia may experience similar flooding.
Meanwhile, some 500 families in World Vision's Mlolo area development program have had crops ruined, and more than 150 pit latrines in this area have been destroyed. Located in the Nsanje region, our projects there are supported by donors in Australia.
Rehabilitation efforts are well underway in Mlolo, staff report. Since sanitation needs are critical in this flooded region, our Malawi office is treating contaminated water sources with chlorine and carrying out water-securing measures to curb the spread of waterborne illnesses. They also are providing food and water and are procuring plastic sheeting to construct temporary dwellings for displaced families.
World Vision's team continues to closely monitor the situation in our programs across the country, reports Esau Mwendo, World Vision's food security manager in Malawi. He adds that community-level disaster prevention efforts, including modern agricultural methods and environmentally friendly practices, have helped to mitigate acute, widespread flood damages in program areas.
Heavy, annual flooding typically occurs between January and February in Malawi. However, this season's rainfall comes on the heels of recurring drought conditions that have required a substantial food aid response over the past five years.
>> Please pray for the tens of thousands of children and families in Southern Africa who are in desperate need at the hands of drought, flooding, and waterborne illnesses. Pray also for World Vision staff to be able to continue providing emergency aid effectively.
>> Donate now to World Vision's Disaster Response Fund. Your gift will help World Vision respond quickly and effectively to crises around the world, including the recent flooding in drought-ravaged Southern Africa.
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