More flooding in Mozambique adds to number of displaced

© MSF

MSF AT A GLANCE

Locations: Tete Province (Mutarara district), Zambezia province (Chinde, Mopeia and Morrumbala districts).

Activities:

  • Shelter distribution: 3,150 families benefited (plastic sheeting)
  • Hygiene and cooking kits and mosquito nets distribution in Mopeia: 2000 families benefited
  • Latrines built: 90 (239 more planned in Vila Nova and Mutarara)
  • Water delivery or chlorination in camps
  • Drugs delivery in Health centres
  • Assessment going on in Chinde district by helicopter

    Planned activities:

  • Measles vaccination for more than 5,000 children
  • Outbreaks prevention and surveillance

    Staff:

  • 7 international staff and 62 national staff (medical staff, water and sanitation experts and logisticians)

    Since the end of 2007, heavy rainfalls have caused floods in different countries across southern Africa. Although floods are expected this time of year in Mozambique, the river levels are alarming and much higher than this time last year. MSF teams are intervening to mitigate the health impact of the floods.

    In Mozambique, it is estimated that since December, 2007, 65,000 people living in the Zambezi basin have had to leave their home and resettle in camps in safer areas. In addition to those, many who had fled last year's floods have never returned to their home and need support as well.

    The national disaster relief agency has been working hard from the beginning, but welcomes the support of NGOs already active in the country, like MSF.

    Providing shelter and latrines

    MSF teams reached the affected area on January 9 and reacted very quickly by delivering shelter materials and by helping local communities with water trucking and chlorination and installing latrines in different camps in Mutarara district, Tete province, and Moepia district, Zambezia province. The team is also assessing medical needs and keeping a close eye on possible disease outbreaks.

    Assessments were also undertaken in Mopeia, Morrumbala and Chinde districts in Zambezia Province, by a team of six logistics and medical staff. In Mopeia, 200 people were rescued by MSF boats during the weekend and brought to the camps.

    "The main challenge is a logistical one," says Dr Marc Biot, who was in Mutarara on the first days of the intervention. "The only way to access isolated villages and communities is by boat, which takes a lot of time. And when the needs have been identified, we need to bring drugs, shelter materials or start vaccination campaigns according to the needs."

    Some areas, like Chinde, have been so badly affected MSF is using a helicopter to assess the impact of the floods on local populations.

    The number of displaced families is bound to increase as more rain is forecast. This is why, in addition to the quick emergency response, MSF is now deploying additional teams to provide support to the population in the next two months.

    Preventing disease outbreaks

    "Healthwise, the main risks after floods are usually measles, and diarrhoeal diseases," says Dr Biot. "We will make sure that most children are vaccinated against measles, and that there is access to clean water in camps to avoid the propagation of waterborne diseases."

    All medical activities will rely heavily on community health workers.

    Four confirmed cases of cholera have been spotted in Mutarara, and cholera treatment centres are being put in place to treat these patients and avoid further spread of the disease.

    Also, in order to prevent malaria infection, mosquito nets have been distributed in the Zona Verde of the Mopeia district to 2000 families.

    As for clean water, MSF teams have been using trucks to deliver water to camps, which also meant delivering tanks in some cases. We are also distributing chlorination kits to the community, so that people can purify river water.

    "We also want to make sure that people have access to well functioning health centres, so we are planning to increase drugs supply to health units where people seek care" adds Dr Biot.

    In Mutarara, 60 patients on treatment for HIV or tuberculosis are missing. They normally come to the hospital for monthly supplies but may not be able to do so in the next few weeks. Teams will set out to find them and make sure receive their treatment. Missing pills may jeopardise their therapy.