Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday declared that the challenge facing Mozambicans now, particularly those who have lost all their possessions in the current flooding in the Limpopo Valley, lies in seeking strength to rebuild all that was destroyed by the waters.
Guebuza was speaking at the Chihaquelane accommodation centre, where about 70,000 people have fled to escape the floods that have engulfed Chokwe town, and many of the nearby villages on the Limpopo flood plain.
"We are with you, we weep with you, because we know that you have lost many of your goods including your houses, your goats, your cattle and much that is of great value", said Guebuza.
The floods, he added, had compromised the work undertaken in the 2012-2013 agricultural year. Large areas planted with maize have been submerged, and it is not clear how badly damaged the rice crop in Chokwe is. Guebuza pointed out that the people of Chokwe are not alone in their fate, since rivers have burst their banks in several other parts of the country, though not with the same severity as in the Limpopo Valley.
Thus there had been flooding, of a greater or lesser severity, in the Zambezi, Pungoe and Buzi basins in the centre of the country. Just as roads had been cut by the Limpopo, so in the Zambezi Valley flooding had isolated entire districts (such as Tambara and Guro in Manica province) from the rest of the country. "In many places, floods have not only affected people but have attacked infrastructures such as roads and schools, and have left children with nowhere to study", he said.
There were areas where the rising waters had left teachers on one side of a river, and their pupils on the other. The challenge facing all those affected, Guebuza stressed, was to roll up their sleeves to restore all that had been destroyed, in order to ensure that, in the near future, life could resume its normal course. He praised the attitude shown by most residents of Chokwe, who accepted the authorities warning and abandoned the town in good time.
He also praised the gesture of the South African government which has offered logistical support, including air support for the victims of the Limpopo flood.
Health Minister Alexandre Manguele announced that 5,000 mosquito nets will shortly be distributed among those displaced from Chokwe, in order to block the spread of malaria among the flood victims. He also promised that three large health service tents, with medical staff, will be set up in Chihaquelane to deal with the health needs of the displaced. The waters are now subsiding in Chokwe. On Wednesday much of the town was under two metres of water, but now in Chokwe streets the waters are no more than waist high.
The Limpopo flood surge has now reached the city of Xai-Xai, capital of Gaza province. The waters are expected to inundate the low lying part of the city.
But individuals and institutions have had time to evacuate, and have moved their belongings to safety in the upper part of Xai-Xai, which is more of less invulnerable to flooding.
The floods have hit communications in the city, and the entire Xai-Xai fixed phone network has been knocked out. The United Nations puts the death toll from the Limpopo floods at 26, and in a statement issued on Friday said there are 48,796 people taking refuge in six Gaza accommodation figures (which is lower than the government figure). "Together with the government, we are rushing in clean water, food, shelter, and humanitarian supplies to Gaza Province, and are ready to send more as needs become clearer," said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Mozambique, Jennifer Topping.
"In consultation with the Government of Mozambique, we will be appealing to our donors to make additional funds available immediately to help deal with this emergency," added Topping.