It is clear from HoverAid's use of hovercraft in both 2000 and 2007 that these vehicles are extremely useful in a flood relief emergency, able to gain access across flooded ground, mud, fields, and fast flowing river channels filled with unseen obstacles and debris. The forecast this coming year is for more floods, and these will be made more problematic because there is a significant amount of water currently stored upstream in Lake Kariba which may need to be released.
The volume of water to be released is potentially huge - a discharge rate of 10,000 m3/s (enough to fill four Olympic swimming pools every second) for over two weeks would lower the lake to the level it was at this time last year. Before the rains in 2007 and 2008 the lake level was lower still and even so there were major floods both times.
Sadly that flow rate is more than twice the current peak capacity of the river through Mozambique which has been reduced since the Kariba and Cahorra Bassa dams were built. Even without the rains there will almost certainly be a flood, but the rains have now started, adding to the volume of water which will have to flow. Cyclones have also started appearing in the Southern Indian Ocean as the sea temperature rises above 26 degrees celcius - at the time of writing there are three active cyclones in the south and one inthe north
For the large number of people who live along the river the choices are hard. Many live there because the land is fertile and they are in acute poverty. Land which may flood is better than no land at all.
Many communities have rebuilt their huts after two years of disruption and displacement. We are concerned that these coming floods will be significantly worse and many lives and livelihoods are at risk.
Last year Iris Ministries (Headed by Heidi Baker) worked with the government to help feed up to 100,000 people a day from its churches and bases along the Zambezi. Andy Mayo and Peter Gunner also had meetings with Heidi and the Iris team whilst in Mozambique to learn from their experiences - see this short video. We hope to be able to work with Iris in the coming months.
HoverAid has the experience to be able to operate a suitable hovercraft in survey, rescue, relief, and support roles, and we are doing everything we can to get the right kind of hovercraft to Mozambique before the floods hit.
To do this (and operate it there with a team) will cost around £120,000 and we need to raise a substantial part of that money as quickly as possible in order to act in a time. We believe we can make a difference to communities who are at significant risk - but we need financial support to achieve it.
HoverAid is a Christian organisation, and we are compelled to act by the knowledge that our neighbours in Mozambique are in need - and we are called to love our neighbours. We will try. If we cannot raise enough support to get a hovercraft to Mozambique then funds will either be returned or used to support our Mad Medical Safari in Madagascar depending on the wishes of donors - we will do our best, and we will be open and transparent about it.
We cannot rely on large institutional donors to act quickly - many of the major aid organisations will not be able to act until the floods actually occur. For us to be effective we have to act now. If you want to know more please send me an e-mail and I will respond as quickly as I can. Thank you.
Andy Mayo - UK Executive Director, HoverAid