Maputo — The Mozambican government's Disaster Management Technical Commission (CTGC) on Friday announced an orange alert, only one step removed from the maximum state of disaster readiness, a red alert.
The move was prompted by a combination of torrential rains north of the Zambezi and a severe drought in southern Mozambique.
The soils in the north of the country are now saturated, and the weather forecast is for 300 millimetres of rain in the next 15 days in Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces. In Cabo Delgado, the Messalo, Muagide and Megaruma rivers are now all at flood alert level.
In the south, however, a CGTC press release notes that the current rainy season has been characterized, not by rain, but by successive heat waves, causing serious damage to agriculture and to livestock. In general, across the south and centre of the country the rivers are at low levels.
Another few weeks without rain could plunge over a million people in the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, and the central province of Sofala into food insecurity.
The orange alert, the CTGC says, is intended to avoid the loss of human lives, and the destruction of economic and social infrastructures, while “paying greater attention to the most vulnerable groups (children, pregnant women, the elderly, and the chronically ill)”.
Under the alert, the regional Emergency Operational Centres (COEs) and the Local Disaster Risk Management Committees (CLGRC) are to pre-position search and rescue equipment, and supplies of humanitarian aid.
They must also draw up an inventory on the current state of essential infrastructures, evacuation routes and places of shelter, in the event that people must be moved out of the path of floods.
The disaster management bodies are also instructed to raise public awareness of the dangers, so that citizens withdraw from flood-prone areas, and pay close attention to future warnings issued by the relevant authorities.
The CTGC statement urges rational use of water, including a reduction in the use of irrigation, and a switch to methods that use less water, such as drip irrigation.