March 2, 2000
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing emergency assistance to flood victims in Mozambique. MSF has sent medical teams, relief supplies, water tanks, rescue boats, and logistical kits to several sites in Maputo, Gaza, and Inhambane provinces. More than 1,000,000 people are affected by the flood and an estimated 300,000 people have been left homeless in Mozambique following the worst flooding to hit the region in over thirty years.
MSF started providing assistance to flood victims during the first wave of severe flooding that began on the weekend of February 5 and 6. A second wave of flooding that occurred last weekend has aggravated the situation considerably. The provinces hit hardest by the disaster are Gaza, Inhambane, and Sofala.
Flooding of the Limpopo River has led to catastrophic conditions in the city of Chokwe where an estimated 25,000 people remain stranded on the tops of houses. MSF is presently the only relief agency working in the area. In addition to evacuating as many people as possible by boat, MSF is distributing food and water, and providing health care. Additional boats and a helicopter are scheduled to arrive Saturday. MSF is urging the international community to send additional rescue specialists and helicopters to accelerate the rescue operation.
In Macia, MSF is providing health care, potable water, and sanitation support in a transit camp for approximately 5,000 displaced persons and an additional 10,000 people staying with host families in the city. MSF is attempting to convince 15,000 people in nearby Chakalan to move to safer ground in Macia. Currently the only aid agency in Macia, MSF is working to prepare the region to receive more displaced people from Chokwe. Food, shelter materials, and non-food items are desperately needed.
The risk of epidemics is still high and will even increase as soon as the water levels start to fall. Cholera, which has hit Mozambique very hard during the last few years, is feared. MSF is reinforcing the capacity of the Ministry of Health to prevent and control possible cholera epidemics. MSF has already installed 4 cholera treatment centers in Maputo and Matola where the first cases have been confirmed.
The First Two Weeks of Flood Relief Activities
MSF has been running cholera prevention and other health care programs in Mozambique since 1989. When severe flooding began to sweep the country in early February 2000, MSF teams working in the affected regions immediately switched their activities to emergency flood relief. Now over 40 international volunteers and 100 national staff members are providing health care, food, drinking water, shelter, and latrines to thousands left homeless by the worst flooding to hit Mozambique in over 30 years.
In this report from Mozambique, MSF Head of Mission Gorik Ooms describes the first two weeks of relief activities.
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