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Concern responds to worsening floods in Zambia

The Western Province of Zambia is divided by the Zambezi flood plain, known locally as the Barotse Plains. Every year the plains flood to some extent, but in late February 2007 the Zambezi exceeded the highest water levels ever recorded. This compounded previous problems in January when widespread floods destroyed the bulk of both winter and summer crops.

As a result, the mostly migrant population on the Barotse Plains, and the more permanent population on the outskirts of the flood plains, have been left susceptible to food shortages, widespread malnutrition and the spread of infectious water born disease, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

Flood response

Concern is using a two-stage response to help deal with these problems. The initial stage will began in early March.

Communication

It is essential that information reaches the affected population through local radio, informing people that migration to the uplands should not be delayed until late March, or early April (these are traditional times of the year to migrate).

Evacuation

Concern will facilitate the voluntary evacuation of households that are found to be in need. This will include the hire of boats, and cash grants to evacuated households.

Concern, in conjunction with Oxfam and the regional office of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, will monitor and assess the needs of the most affected people, the current food supply, public health and markets. This will continue until June.

Stage Two

From March, Concern initiated the second stage of its response plan. Food relief and cash transfers may be used. The scale of this, and the level of involvement, depends on further assessment of the situation.

Recovering livelihoods

This activity consists of distribution of vegetable seed, sweet potato and cassava cuttings which can be immediately planted along the edge of the plains or in suitable upland locations.

Canal clearing for long term flood prevention

This is expected to begin in May as the waters begin to recede and continue to July or August. It will focus on the Mongu District and will attempt to comprehensively clear major and minor irrigation canals across the plains.