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Water levels contiue to rise in Mozambique

The current devastating floods in Mozambique could be the worst in history, coming earlier and heavier than anticipated. Earlier this month, the 2007 peak levels had already been surpassed with more rainfall expected.

Mozambique is split in half by the Zambezi River. The Zambezi enters from Zambia in the North-Western province of Tete and flows into the Indian Ocean in the province of Zambezia. Every year, around January, the Zambezi River floods; filling depositories for drinking water and encouraging fish to breed in the marshlands. This attracts people to live close to the flood plains, to farm, trade and fish.

Every five years or so, the river stretches beyond its normal flood patterns, destroying crops, homes and livelihoods. Knowing this, people have decided by choice and often by lack of other livelihood options, to live with this reality. When hit by floods they are forced to rebuild their lives when the waters recede. Each time this happens, governments and aid organisations working in the countries affected, encourage people to try other ways of making a living. But the Zambezi always wins and gradually people return to their fertile but vulnerable lands.

In 2007 the Zambezi valley was hit by the worst floods since 2001. More than 50,000 people lost their homes and the livelihoods of a quarter of a million were affected. A quick and well coordinated response, led by the Mozambicans themselves prevented any fatalities. The displaced people were welcomed into temporary accommodation camps on higher ground, where they received food supplies and education support. Throughout this emergency, Concern and partners provided support to more than 10,000 affected people.

Concern’s response

Concern works together with many other NGOs, government institutions and the UN-agencies, under the leadership of the Mozambican government. 

In Zambezia Province Concern will be providing joint support to four resettlement zones, together with German Alliance2015 partner DWHH. In Manica province, Concern are working together with the Mozambican Red Cross and local partner Magariro.

The first aim has been to prevent any loss of life, by supporting national partners and local authorities to ensure all those at risk are being evacuated. This can often be a matter of providing assistance such as fuel, boats or lending vehicles. A recent monitoring mission by Concern’s team in Zambezia province, led to the identification and evacuation of 150 families.

Many of the affected areas are difficult to access and in the vast myriad of waterways in the Zambezi Delta, there is a risk of communities being overlooked. 

The second mission is to ensure that all the people affected by the floods receive adequate support in the accommodation camps. Displaced people have a right to shelter, appropriate water and sanitation facilities, food and health care. The children affected still need to go to school, so Concern provide temporary schooling facilities, student kits and support to the teachers. Lastly, special attention is given to the most vulnerable community members, such as elderly people, orphans and the chronically ill.

It is during these times of crisis, Concern’s long term presence in Mozambique is a great advantage.  Knowing the area and people who have been affected, Concern is able to respond quickly and effectively.

The situation is serious with potentially up to one million people being affected, if the waters continue to rise.