Oxfam International alerts for possible health crisis as flood waters rise in Mozambique

“Oxfam’s priority will be to rush in this assistance as quickly as possible to evacuation centers”
Hugo Oosterkamp
Oxfam International
Published: 4 January 2008

Answering a call for help from the Mozambican government, aid agency Oxfam International today dispatched emergency staff to flood-hit areas in the country to assess humanitarian needs of tens of thousands of people so far devastated by rising water levels.

“Whenever a flood hits, a lack of clean water and sanitation facilities reaches dangerous levels in a matter of days, if not hours. Access to both will become farther and farther out of reach and could lead to a widespread health crisis as flood waters continue to rise,” said Hugo Oosterkamp, Oxfam International's Water and Sanitation emergency coordinator in Mozambique.

“As water and sanitation experts, Oxfam’s priority will be to rush in this assistance as quickly as possible to evacuation centers where people are seeking shelter. In these conditions the threat of diarrhea, malaria and cholera must be addressed immediately,” added Oosterkamp.

Torrential rain in Zimbabwe caused a wall of water to surge down the Save river, leading to flooding in southern Mozambique. In the Zambeze, Púngoe, Buzi and Save valleys, 55,000 people are now affected.

Mozambique's National Disasters Management Institute (IGNC) yesterday asked the Mozambique government to declare a red alert. The INGC has warned that it has reached its limit responding to the emergency, and has appealed to the Mozambique government, UN agencies and the international humanitarian community for support.

Oxfam will be working with local partners and the Mozambican government to provide humanitarian assistance.  

The country's largest river, the Zambezi, has remained above flood alert level from Mutarara in Tete province, down to Marromeu in Sofala, the last measuring station before the river flows into the Indian Ocean. The situation on the lower Zambezi may worsen in the near future, since the Cahora Bassa dam, faced with renewed inflows of water from neighboring countries into the dam lake, has increased its discharges into the Zambezi from 3,500 to 4,500 cubic meters a second.

Oxfam International‘s emergency teams last year assisted 34,000 displaced people with clean water, sanitation facilities and non food items, when they were displaced by torrential rains in the Zambeze Valley, in the central regions of the country.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

Milton Machel (Mozambique), + 258 827008345

Ana Damásio (Spain), +34 61 887 81 13

Jennifer Abrahamson (US), +1 202 321 7858

Caroline Hooper-Box (South Africa), +27 82 468 1905