8 February 2013

Mozambique: Rains Continue to Threaten Central Mozambique

Maputo — Moderate to heavy rainfall is expected to continue over parts of central and northern Mozambique from Friday through to next Wednesday, according to the National Meteorology Institute (INAM).

Over this period, accumulated rainfall of between 100 and 200 millimetres is forecast for Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia provinces, and parts of Nampula.

Perhaps of more concern is that moderate to heavy rainfall is also expected in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The rain that falls here will find its way into Mozambique down the main river valleys, and INAM warns of a likely “significant impact” on the Zambezi, Pungoe and Save rivers.

Faced with this threat, the authorities are urging anyone still living in flood-prone areas to leave at once. Rute Nhamucho, the head of the Department of Water Resources in the National Water Board (DNA), warned that a rise in the levels of the main rivers in central Mozambique will be felt as from Sunday.

The Zambezi is still above flood alert level on its lower reaches, at Caia and Marromeu, and a rush of water from the neighbouring countries will increase the likelihood of further flooding. The Cahora Bassa lake is only 64 per cent full, so the reservoir still has considerable space to store water flowing down the Zambezi upstream of Cahora Bassa.

The latest data on the Pungue river, measured at the Mafambisse sugar plantation, is that is has fallen to six metres, which is the alert level.

In Zambezia, the Licungo river at Mocuba is now below alert level – but it rose from 5.71 metres on Wednesday to 5.93 metres on Thursday, which is just seven centimeters below alert level.

The rivers in the south of the country are continuing to drop, and no significant rainfall is forecast for the southern provinces over the next few days.

Although the river has now receded, few people are returning to the town of Chokwe, which was engulfed by the waters of the Limpopo in January. Indeed, even more flood victims have been arriving at the largest temporary accommodation centre, at Chihaquelane, some 30 kilometres outside Chokwe.

As of Thursday, there were 104,000 people at Chihaquelane, almost 50 per cent more than the 70,000 counted last week. The authorities are worried that the concentration of such large numbers of people in a small area is an invitation to the spread of disease, particularly as only 170 latrines have been dug at the centre, and the people of Chokwe are demanding to be paid for digging latrines.

The authorities want to move people out of Chihaquelane as quickly as possible, by giving them plots of land and construction kits so that they can build their own homes in areas earmarked for resettlement.

According to data from the country’s relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), up until Tuesday around 700 tonnes of food aid had been distributed to 135,827 people in Gaza, the province worst hit by floods. The great majority of these beneficiaries (104,607) are from Chokwe town and district.

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