Date Published: 14 January 2008

Relief effort underway as number of displaced by Mozambique floods continues to rise

UNICEF said today it is scaling up its response in central Mozambique as the number of people displaced by flooding along the Zambezi River continues to increase.

Tens of thousands of people have moved to safer grounds as water levels have been rising sharply over the past 48 hours. An estimated 50,000 people have been evacuated to resettlement centres across four provinces. The floods have hit some of the poorest and most isolated communities in the country, where access to social services is limited.

Concerned by the impending humanitarian situation, UNICEF has sent a second emergency team today to Mutarara, one of the worst-hit areas along the Zambezi River. A first response team was deployed to Caia last week to support local disaster management authorities in the initial relief effort. The UNICEF teams are working with local authorities and humanitarian partners on the ground to respond to the health and nutritional needs of women and children.

The number of people displaced is fast reaching a critical mass,” said UNICEF representative in Mozambique, Leila Pakkala.

Urgent action is crucial to prevent outbreaks of diseases, which are of great concern at the onset of a crisis, especially among children.

UNICEF is working with health authorities to ensure that cholera prevention activities are ongoing and support services are available. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets also are being distributed by health authorities with support from UNICEF, the Mozambican Red Cross, Malaria Consortium and PSI to prevent cases of malaria in the flooded areas. The malaria season is peaking, and standing water will increase breeding conditions for mosquitoes. Malaria is the main cause of child deaths in the country.

Safe supplies of drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities are being provided to avoid the spread of water-borne diseases and improve sanitary conditions for displaced communities.

In collaboration with education authorities, UNICEF and the Save the Children Alliance are distributing tents and school kits to ensure that children who have been evacuated to resettlement centres with their families can get back into school when the school year begins in late January. So far, 47 schools have been damaged by the flooding.

Localised flooding is common in Mozambique during the southern Africa rainy season from November to March. Last year, an estimated 285,000 people were affected by floods along the Zambezi River Basin. As rising water levels caused by heavy rains flooded low-lying areas, over 100,000 people found refuge in temporary accommodation centres. Mozambique is among the world’s 20 poorest countries, ranking 172 out of 177 countries on the 2007 Human Development Index. About 58% of children live below the poverty line.


Source: UNICEF Main Website.
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