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Mozambique floods: American Red Cross volunteers boost relief efforts
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Shilpika Das
 
March 23, 2007

The waters may have temporarily receded, but people in Mozambique continue to struggle in the aftermath of the floods, which devastated the Zambezi flood plain and affected more than 300,000 people.

Thousands of survivors are still struggling to recover from the damage inflicted by severe floods, which inundated most of southern Africa since its onset in January. The situation deteriorated further when Cyclone Favio – which peaked at 175 mph – ravaged a southern coastal town south of the Zambezi. The twin disasters claimed at least 45 lives and forced more than 170,000 people from their homes.

The American Red Cross provided $200,000 and two delegates to assist people affected by recent floods and cyclones in southern Africa.
The American Red Cross provided $200,000 and two delegates to assist people affected by recent floods and cyclones in southern Africa.
Photographer: Gina Guinta, American Red Cross

Tracy Reines of the American Red Cross is loading emergency relief items to assist the more than 300,000 people affected by the floods in Mozambique.
Tracy Reines of the American Red Cross is loading emergency relief items to assist the more than 300,000 people affected by the floods in Mozambique.
Photographer: Gina Guinta, American Red Cross

Gina Guinta of the American Red Cross working with Mozambique Red Cross Society volunteers in an accommodation camp outside of Mutarara.
Gina Guinta of the American Red Cross working with Mozambique Red Cross Society volunteers in an accommodation camp outside of Mutarara.
Photographer: Gina Guinta, American Red Cross

The severity of the disasters prompted the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (International Federation) to increase its emergency appeal to help the survivors of both the recent floods and Cyclone Favio. The revised emergency request now seeks $16.9 million – almost triple the initial appeal – to assist more than 117,000 people for the next six months.

Supporting the relief operations, the American Red Cross deployed two international disaster response delegates to Mozambique to assist with the on-going flood recovery efforts. The American Red Cross also contributed blankets, tarpaulins, sleeping mats and the delivery of these relief items – totaling close to $200,000 in emergency assistance.

Relief delegates Tracy Reines and Gina Guinta are based in Caia, at the International Federation's base camp established specifically for this response. Reines is working as the team leader for the relief Emergency Response Unit helping to coordinate the efforts of the Mozambique Red Cross Society, the Mozambique Government and other relief organizations, while Guinta is focusing on continued assessments and distributions to displaced persons near the Zambezi River. Their responsibilities support the Mozambique Red Cross Society’s distribution of non-food relief items, including kitchen sets, buckets, and mosquito nets to 17,000 families and basic shelter kits to approximately 13,000 families.

With the road conditions deteriorated from the flooding, the American Red Cross delegates find it difficult to reach temporary accommodation centers where people affected by the floods have relocated. Some remote areas are inaccessible by trucks and subsequently require boat or helicopter transport to facilitate delivery of assistance.

"Relief efforts have proved to be quite challenging due to limited road access," said Reines. "Large scale distributions and assessments have been hindered by flood-ravaged roads, with bridges out in main routes. Fortunately we are collaborating with the UN to use their helicopters to deliver supplies to some of these remote areas, and families in these areas show their resiliency every day."

Mr. Mabvuto Barro, who left his flooded village to stay in one of the temporary camps, told Guinta, "All the products that were sent were needed. We are pleased to have received the help from the Red Cross and we're grateful for it." Thousands of flood victims remain in accommodation centers before being allocated land for resettlement in safer, less flood-prone areas directly along the Zambezi. Accommodation centers are spread throughout four provinces and in some provinces ranging from less than 100 families to close to 2,000.

"People have been living in these centers for almost two months now. In one remote camp where road access was impossible until mid-March, families are finding ways to meet their needs with traditional food including dried fish. Now that access has improved, water and food distributions from various organizations are bridging the gap to help people meet their nutritional requirements," says Guinta. Poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions in these flood-affected areas are being mitigated by Red Cross relief, water, sanitation and health activities in an effort to avoid potential cholera, dysentery, dengue and malaria outbreaks.

As they prepare for recovery and rehabilitation efforts, the Red Cross is concentrating on providing clean water, food, health and shelter to flood victims to minimize health risks. Relief operations continue to find solutions to the challenges of poor infrastructure and limited accessibility. American Red Cross delegates are working tirelessly to ensure that relief and recovery efforts reach the people who need it most – as quickly as possible.

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.


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