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Southern Africa floods 2008

Summary

  • Tens of thousands of people across southern Africa were affected by flooding, which claimed 21 lives.
  • Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland were all been hit by the storms, which resulted in flooding in many areas.
  • Crops were destroyed, livestock lost, homes and personal belongings swept away by the rising waters.
  • Mozambique was worst affected, with more than 55,000 people evacuated. Many were still recovering from flooding and a cyclone, which hit the country less than a year ago.
  • The British Red Cross launched an appeal on 17 January 2008 to support the Red Cross Movement’s response, providing 150,000 people with emergency relief including clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, jerry cans and plastic sheets.  

Background

Flood waters surround the city of Mutarara in Mozambique© InfoHeavy seasonal rains, which arrived earlier than normally expected, caused rivers in southern Africa to burst their banks and brought misery to almost 70,000 people across the region.

Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland were all hit by the storms, which resulted in heavy flooding in many areas.

The situation in Mozambique was particularly desperate, as it was less than a year since the country was hit by flooding, which was then immediately followed by a cyclone. Many of the communities affected were just starting to recover.

Crops such as maize were destroyed, livestock (cows, goats and chickens) lost, homes and personal belongings swept away by the rising waters. Thousands were left with nothing, and facing possible food shortages and the prospect of going hungry.

The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement response

Submerged homes are seen from the air on the flooded banks of the Zambezi River in central Mozambique© InfoThe International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement worked across the region providing emergency relief to thousands of people.

In Mozambique, Red Cross volunteers worked around the clock helping construct temporary shelters and distribute tents, tarpaulins, plastic sheets, mosquito nets, and mattresses to people living in the worst affected areas.

Mozambique Red Cross disaster preparedness programmes, put in place after floods devastated the country in 2000 and 2001, saved thousands of lives – as people received warnings when levels began to rise and were able to move to higher grounds.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appealed for more than £5 million to help more than 30,000 families across the region.

British Red Cross response

The British Red Cross opened an appeal on 17 January 2008 to support the work of the Red Cross Movement on the ground. The appeal helped fund non-food items for 150,000 people, including blankets, clothes, kitchen sets and tarpaulins.

The Southern Africa Appeal will cover present and near future flooding events in numerous countries within the African continent, including those currently affected and those potentially affected in the future.

In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.

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