Devastating flooding in Mozambique
Country: Mozambique by Lisette
The inner city of Maputo is extremely lucky, it seems nothing happened here except for a few heavy rainfalls. It’s different in others parts of the city and worse outside Maputo Province (located in the Southern region of Mozambique). A couple of days ago, the Disaster Management Coordination Council (CCGC) declared a red alert. The same day, flooding in Gaza Province left 5 people dead and an estimated 30,000 people in need of evacuation.
About ⅓ of them have been moved to temporary shelters higher parts of the country. Others are stranded on rooftops and waiting for evacuation boats. Every year, high water outflow from South Africa reaches the Limpopo and Incomati rivers leading to extreme high water levels. This year, the dyke in Chokwe was already damaged by heavy rains in 2012 and not fully restored, causing 30,000 people to be moved.
In Costa do Sol, where I work, people tried to limit the damage by filling empty cement bags with sand and place them in front of their streets or houses. Most of the area consists of dirt roads (sand), simple brick houses (few meters wide and long) and even more so mud huts and huts made from grass. The sand filled bags were not much protection and quite a few houses are washed away.
One of my colleagues lost his house. “The sewage system just exploded,” he told me last week. With days of heavy rainfall, the fairly basic plumbing in the area could not handle the large amount of water. His brick house just vanished, along with three others. He had just moved his family to another place and is considered lucky because that means he still has a roof over his head. His former neighbours are not so lucky; they lost almost everything they owned.
A school nearby offered them a classroom so they had a place to sleep and government officials are able to find them. People donated some clothes and food. But how long can they support them? A small committee has been set up to support them and help them advocate their cause. It may take 6 months or longer before affected families will receive government support to rebuild their lives. That is a long time if you have no resources to fall back on!
Yesterday, the flood reached coastal town Xai-Xai, forcing the closure of a major north-south road. Damaged or lost housing leads to immediate tragedy for Mozambicans while the road closure leads to economical tragedy. Add to that damaged bridges, closure of basic services such as banks, shops and hospitals and the socio-economic consequences could be huge.
It hasn’t been raining for days in Maputo, and life seems to return to normal. Yet, if we open our eyes we see slums that have been greatly affected, churches that are completely flooded and some people lost their business. One of VSO Mozambique’s partner organizations, AGRODEC, lost their administrative building and demonstration center. Meanwhile, intense rains are expected in the central and northern regions.
Already, about 70,000 people have been displaced across the country according to the UN who urges donors to make funds available “to help deal with this emergency in the impoverished nation”.