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Hanne Roden on the floods in Mozambique and MS
Hanne Roden, country co-ordinator for MS-Mozambique, describes the disaster in Mozambique and its consequences for MS' partners and the development workers in the country.
In the past weeks heavy rains have struck Mozambique and neighbouring countries, especially South Africa and Zimbabwe. In some areas there has also been heavy storms, and a cyclone struck in central areas of Mozambique. From the 5-10 of February, the areas that were affected most severely were the most southern part of the country. This includes the capital Maputo, where heavy rains have turned roads into rivers.
In the following days it continued to rain in the provinces of Gaza and Inhambane, and in South Africa. Later on it also spread to the Southern parts of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Most of the rainwater from this area finds its way to the rivers that flow into Mozambique, especially the smaller rivers of the Maputo province but also the big Limpopo and Save rivers.
Some of MS' local employees had problems for a couple of days when the floods were at their worst in the capital, this was mainly problems relating to transport and some instances of minor floods. On one occasion a house was totally flooded. None of the Danish development workers have been affected directly.
MS-Mozambique does not have partners or development workers in the areas where the floods have been most severe - in the Gaza and Inhambane provinces. The floods have not affected development workers that are placed in Cabo Delgado or Nampula.In the Manica province everybody lives in Chimoio or further North where there has been no damage caused by floods or cyclones. In the Maputo area no one has been affected directly either.
According to weather reports there is no hope that the water levels of the above-mentioned rivers will fall within the next few days, on the contrary, it is still raining with great force.
It has been reported that the Cahora Bassa dam in Tete on the Zambezi-river has started to let out more water, this will cause floods along the Zambezi in the following days. MS-Mozambique is in frequent contact with the Embassy and other organisations in the country. This is partly done in order to follow the situation, but also in order to plan how we can help clearing up and rebuilding afterwards.
Now and in the near future, the consequences that affect the MS-Mozambique program is that the national north-south main road has been destroyed in several places. Big sections of the road have been washed away, small and large bridges have disappeared. There is no doubt that it will take months before the EN1 road has been rebuild and will be useful again. Until then, it is only possible to fly or drive from South Africa and Zimbabwe, if you want to go from the southern parts of Mozambique - to the center or to the North.
In other words the situation described is somewhat unreal, big parts of the country and the population, including us, work and live as if nothing has happened, while there are people living 10-100-200-600 miles away for whom everything has been destroyed.
In these areas the bodies of humans and cattle float down the river. In some places 80 metres of shore have turned into a 14-15 miles wide frothing sea. The first harvest from the fertile fields along the rivers has been totally destroyed; this will cause hunger and suffering in the coming months.
In addition to this the huge amounts of still-standing brackish water will make malaria spread fast and the first official reports of cholera in Maputo have already come.