- Southern Africa
- Natural disaster
Mozambique: Many killed as rains threaten population
Early seasonal rains trigger acute food shortages
Mozambique has witnessed a season’s amount of rain in a week which has caused flooding, killed 26 people and left thousands of others homeless.
According to reports, crops from central Sofala province are also under threat from locusts which have invaded the area in the last few days, worsening the impact of heavy rains. Relief authorities fear that flooding could wreck the region by March, the peak of the rainy season.
The Pungue, measured on Monday morning at Mafambisse, stood at 7.8 metres, massively above flood alert level of six metres. If the river rises by another 20 centimetres, it will sweep across the Beira-Zimbabwe road along a stretch of five kilometres.
Heavy rains and flooding on the Pungue river are threatening to cut the main road between the central Mozambican port of Beira and Zimbabwe. As is frequently the case in the Mozambican rainy season, it is the low-lying stretch of the road between Mutua and Tica, in the Sofala province, which presents the greatest difficulties.
Although this stretch of road was recently rehabilitated, and the drainage conditions made much better than in the past, the large potholes which have suddenly developed there, are difficult to spot in the driving rain.
However, the most disturbing catastrophe this disaster has brought to Mozambique is the shortage of food for almost half a million people. The World Food Program (WFP) say at least seven of the country’s 11 provinces face an acute problem because of poor harvests.
The UN has already warned that it is running out of funds to help the 350,000 people in Mozambique in need of food aid. At the moment, the WFP needs $8.5m (£5.8m) to purchase food aid locally for the destitute.
According to the WFP, the money needed right now is to buy nearly 11,000 tones of cereals, beans and cooking oil to supplement household reserves and help families cope with high food prices. WFP claim that their pipeline for food, which is their food supply, is going to break as soon as February. Mozambicans are in panic.
The situation is reported to be dire for a quarter of a million people who lost their crops last year and have lost their homes, in the floods.
Flooding is not an uncommon occurrence in Mozambique. In the year 2000, it had what is regarded as its worst floods of all time. About 700 people died and half a million others were made homeless after a heavy rain pour across the country. The situation could become much more serious if the Pungue continues to rise.