Mozambique: Flood Victims Returning to Buzi

Maputo — Over 1,000 people affected by cyclone Idai and the ensuing flood in Buzi district, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, began to return to their homes on Saturday, reports Monday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais".

The cyclone hit the Sofala coast on 14 March. It then moved westwards, and dumped huge quantities of rain over Zimbabwe. This rain swept down the main river valleys into Mozambique, flooding much of Buzi and Nhamatanda districts on 17 March.

Taken by surprise, many residents of these districts, took refuge on rooftops or clung onto trees. Rescued by small boats and helicopters, they were taken to accommodation centres in Beira, and in Guara-Guara, an area about 20 kilometres from Buzi town.

With the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Mozambican relief agency, the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC), is now taking these flood victims back to their home areas. The government is providing each of these families with a kit of tools and survival products for 15 days.

Some of the victims who spoke to "O Pais" said they were happy to return to Buzi, because they hoped to resume their lives as farmers. Many will have to build new homes. "My house collapsed on the day of the cyclone", said Isabel Silva, "but when I arrive in Buzi, I shall weep with emotion".

A man named Toco-Toco said "It's good to go back to Buzi, because I'm already making plans for my life. I'll be sowing tomatoes and maize".

Some of the returnees asked for support in school materials. They had not been able to attend classes in the accommodation centre, and had lost all their books and other materials in the flood.

The authorities say they are making 500 plots of land available for returnees to build new houses. The INGC says that initially the returnees will be accommodated in the Guara-Guara secondary school, where 250 tents are ready for them.

"Each family will receive a housing kit, after clearing the place where they will live", said an INGC spokesperson. "The Sofala provincial government will help by making zinc sheeting and cement available".

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