Written by Helder Xavier · Translated by Melissa Mann from Global Voices
[All links lead to Portuguese language pages except when otherwise noted.]
In Mozambique, the rains that have been falling since early January devastated populations in the country’s center and south. Victims are finding refuge in one of six official shelters, and those most vulnerable – children, women, the elderly and the sick – are facing even greater risks. The districts most affected by the rains are Chókwè and Guijá as well as the city of Xai-Xai in the Gaza province in southern Mozambique.
An article published on Jornal @Verdade on January 23 reports that more than 55,000 residents from high-risk areas have been evacuated and relocated to safer areas. Nearly 5,000 people have been relocated to the Chibuto district. The total number of people affected in the Gaza province is 65,000. However, this number could easily reach 100,000 with the water levels continuing to rise in Gaza’s coastal capital Xai-Xai.
The floods have interrupted transportation along the main road linking the country’s north and south.
One Facebook comment on the article written by Alexandra Cabral states:
Isto é simplesmente assustador. Ajudem esta população, por favor! Uma vez na vida, façam algo sem ser para receber contrapartidas. Mostrem que ainda existe sensibilidade e união no povo moçambicano.
This is simply terrifying. Help the population, please! For once in your lives do something without expecting recompense. Show that the Mozambican people are still united and sensitive [to the plights of others].
Another reader, Abel Fumo, appeals to the Mozambican government:
Sabemos que se trata duma situaçao de natureza mas o governo tem que começar a perceber que chegou o momento de redobrar o esforço em ajudas com género alimentício tendo em conta que se trata das mesmas pessoas que vão às urnas para votar.
We know this is a natural disaster, but the government must realize that the time has come to redouble efforts and help distribute foodstuffs, remembering that we are talking about the same people who will [ultimately] be going to the voting booths.
Mas então não aprendemos nada com as cheias do ano 2000? Estes aquedutos na EN1 [Estrada Nacional número 1] quando foram reabilitados porquê não foram feitos para aguentar nível igual ou superior ao daquelas cheias? Por cada 1USD que se gasta em prevenção poupavam-se 7 USD em emergência!
Did we not learn anything from the floods in 2000? When these aqueducts along EN1 [national highway 1] were repaired, why were they not designed to handle a water level equal to or greater than those floods? For every one dollar spent on prevention, we would have saved seven dollars on emergency expenses!
“Victims and damages caused by the floods continue to increase”
As of last Friday (25), the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) had identified more than 70,000 people directly affected by the floods, including 45 deaths, 3,402 homes partially destroyed, 2,231 homes completely destroyed and 698 homes flooded.
The waters have flooded out 92 classrooms, which means 1,346 students are unable to attend their classes.
Vandalism and pillaging
Some victims have reported cases to Jornal @Verdade that reveal “a deep sadness as a result of the collected losses from the floods on the one hand and, on the other hand, the vandalism, in part pursued by hungry flood victims who have refused to relocate to shelters.”
Some families displaced by the floods caused by the rising Limpopo river in the Chókwè district complained of pillaging by persons acting in bad faith. Business owners claim that these criminals, some wielding sharp objects, have ransacked their warehouses and even threatened them.
One of the victims of the floods in southern Mozambique, Suleimane Cassamo, a resident of neighborhood 1 in Chókwè city, stated that people have organized themselves into large groups and have invaded random houses and warehouses while their owners have sought refuge in safer places:
Saqueiaram electrodomésticos e produtos alimentares como arroz, óleo e farinha de milho.
They have ransacked domestic appliances and food products like rice, cooking oil and corn flour.
In the meantime, civil society has been mobilizing to provide support. The organization Makobo has launched a campaign [en] to raise donations and began distributing proceeds on Monday (January 28) to the flood victims:
vamos entregar a CHIAQUELANE, Distrito do Chókwè, as primeiras doações que recebemos. Obrigado a todos pelo apoio, generosidade e solidariedade…Bem hajam. Estamos a contar enviar carregamentos regulares para a Macia e Xai-Xai, dependendo do que conseguirmos recolher nos próximos dias.
Our first donations will go to CHIAQUELANE in the Chókwè district. Thank you all for your support, generosity and solidarity; thank you sincerely. We are hoping to send regular shipments to Macia and Xai-Xai, depending on what we manage to raise over the coming days.