5 March 2008

Zambia: UN Steps Up Aid to Flood-Beleaguered Citizens

With recent flooding having forced thousands of families from their homes in Zambia, the United Nations is stepping up its humanitarian aid in the landlocked southern African nation.

According to an assessment carried out in 19 districts late last month, 3,418 homes have collapsed due to the rainfall and 5,796 households have been displaced, the UN country team said.

Additionally, dozens of schools have been damaged, particularly in their sanitation and water systems, leaving 8,600 pupils needing alternate learning spaces.

The assessment estimated the loss of the main staple crop to be 20 per cent in Eastern Province and 80 per cent in Southern Province, leading to fears of a possible coming nutritional crisis.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is transferring all remaining food supplies from its 2006/2007 flood response package to help those affected by the recent heavy rains. It warns that it is facing a food shortfall of 24,000 tons and that cereals, pulses, oil and fortified blended food will run out soon.

For its part, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is providing 5,000 kits containing household items, as well as 36 school tents, 58 school-in-a-box kits and 40 recreation kits. The agency is also working with the Zambian Ministry of Health to respond to cholera outbreaks.

Late last month, UNICEF announced that it would provide over $1 million worth of emergency assistance to Zambians impacted by flooding.

Zambia, which also suffered from major inundations last year, is one of a handful of southern African countries to have been hard hit by flooding this season, along with Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

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