JOHANNESBURG, 11 March 2010 (IRIN) – Rivers throughout central and northern Mozambique are swollen above flood alert level and thousands of people have been relocated to higher ground.
After weeks of torrential rain in Mozambique and its regional southern African neighbours, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) indicated that 130,000 people were living in risk zones and could be forced to move if water levels kept rising. A Red Alert was declared on 9 March for the basins of the Zambezi, Pungue, Buzi and Licungo rivers.
The cholera season in central Mozambique is at its peak; given the large populations moving through cholera-affected areas to get to places of safety, Mozambique’s Provincial Health Directorate has warned of possible outbreaks in the new accommodation centres.
The latest National Hydrological Bulletin, released on 10 March by the National Water Directorate, said water levels in the Zambezi, Africa’s fourth largest river, would remain above alert level and keep rising, “possibly aggravating localized flooding”.
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, water levels in the Kariba Dam – one of the largest on the Zambezi – have been rising and the Zambezi River Authority had to open one of its flood gates on 9 March.
HoverAid have been monitoring the level of Lake Kariba and the authorities have indicated a second flood gate will open on March 15th. Our data shows that the Zambezi river upstream has had daily flow rates in excess of 14,000 cubic metres per second which is more than three times the maximum capcity of the river in Mozambique – if the dam at Kariba continues to discharge at a high rate, then the dam on the smaller Cahora Bassa reservoir downstream will have to raise its discharge rate too, and this will almost certainly bring about major floods once again.
HoverAid launched an appeal in December last year when we first became aware that floods were likely. Our supporters have raised over £37,000 so far and we have also been supported by a number of grant making trusts enabling us to reach our initial target and buy a Griffon 1500 hovercraft which we have been preparing in Southampton over the last few weeks. In order to get the hovercraft to mozambique we urgently need to reach our overall target of £120,000.