Chokwe flood victims face dam-burst threat
1 March 2000
Flood waters and stranded populations remain the presing concerns for the MSF workers currently in Mozambique. The focus has been on caring for stranded populations who are awaiting evacuation to safer districts. Water levels have climbed steadily and quickly and the flooding, that has left over 800,000 homeless, has been the worst in 50 years. The Limpopo River, which just a week ago, had almost no water now is 15kms across and has depths from five to 11 meters. In Chokwe, MSF is currently the only active NGO. Over 25,000 people there are still stranded on the rooves of buildings and they face the imminent threat of a dam further upstream bursting due to the excesive stresses on the structure. Evacuation is essential for their safety. However there is a lack of necessary rescue helicopters and boats for the size of the poplation. MSF is providing on-the-spot medical care so the stranded can be better prepared to await rescue. MSF is distributing food and water and is providing health care in Chokwe with the intention being to provide care as widely as possible. The total number of displaced in Macia at the moment is 30,000 and MSF is the only aid organisation active there. The MSF transit camp in Macia has 5,000 displaced persons living there. MSF is providing health care, potable water and is working to improve hygienic conditions. There are another 10,000 people staying with host families in the area. In XaiXai, matters are less critical so long as flood waters do not climb. The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing nine tons of food per day to the population but that is not considered sufficient to meet the demand. There is also an increasing threat of a developing cholera outbreak. There are three confirmed cases in Matula and additional unconfirmed cases elsewhere.