Mozambique: Epic floods

  • International staff: 16
  • National staff: 105 Mozambique will remember 2000 as the year of the floods. Torrential rains began in early February, affecting the whole of southern Africa, and the rivers flowing eastwards into the drainage basin of Mozambique soon burst their banks to flood the provinces of Gaza, Sofala and Inhambane. Severe tropical storms from the Indian Ocean hit the country soon after, causing a new wave of flooding in late February. South Africa then opened its floodgates, unleashing the third wave of flooding to wash over Mozambique. An estimated one million Mozambiquans were directly affected by the floods, 300,000 of whom were made homeless. MSF, which has a permanent presence in the country, was quick to conduct rescue operations, set up cholera treatment centers, distribute tons of emergency food, potable water, shelter and medicines, clean wells, and help with body retrieval. Other MSF projects in Mozambique include work in a slum area near Maputo City to improve community health through better water management. In Niassa province, in the north, MSF has trained 400 community health workers to spread information on AIDS, cholera and other health concerns. The projects in Maputo and Niassa will be turned over to local health authorities by early 2001. MSF continues to support the Mutarara health district, with an increasing focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. In 1999, MSF helped work out an emergency preparedness plan for cholera, which included vaccinations in the province of Tete. This plan was put into action when a cholera epidemic hit Gaza province in spring 2000.