Risk of epidemic in Mozambique after the recent floods

Published: 2nd February 2012
  • Tropical storm Dando and cyclone Funso affected more than 117,000 people and left 40 dead in Mozambique last week
  • There is a high risk of water-related epidemics such as cholera in urban areas due to flooding of latrines, population displacement and the lack of evacuation centers with adequate water and sanitation facilities

More than 117,000 affected and 40 dead is the bleak balance left by the passage of tropical storm Dando and cyclone Funso in Mozambique since last January 18th. The first hit the southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane. Two days later, the force of the cyclone FUNSO left its mark on the north and center of the country, mainly in Zambezia. Given the serious situation, Oxfam warns of the high risk of spreading cholera and other water and sanitation related diseases and calls for a rapid and coordinated response of the humanitarian actors.

In the southern region, more than 52,000 people are affected by severe flooding caused by Dando and thousands of homes and schools have been flooded by water. In addition, infrastructure has been seriously affected. Damage to the main road linking the capital, Maputo, with the other cities have caused communication problems between different localities in the country.

Additionally, more than 65,000 are estimated to be affected in the central part of Mozambique by the cyclone Funso, a category 4 of 5. Winds exceeding 200 km per hour and torrential rains have left a considerable number of houses, schools and health centers damaged in the province of Zambezia, mainly in the capital, Quelimane, and Nicoadala, Chinde, Pebane, Maganja da Costa, Namacura, Gurué and Mocuba districts.

In this context, the risk of disease outbreaks related to poor water and sanitation management, such as cholera, is high due to, among other factors, the flooding of latrines, population displacement and lack of accommodation centers with adequate water and sanitation facilities.

According to the UN, due to heavy rain across the region caused by cyclone Funso, the country remains on orange alert, meaning that if there are more floods, this time triggered by the overflow of rivers; resources must be prepared to be used in case people need them.

Oxfam and local partners focus on water and sanitation in Zambezia

Oxfam and local partners Kukumbi and Red Cross of Mozambique will target our response in Zambezia, one of the poorest provinces of the country and historically most affected by cyclones, floods and cholera epidemic, which is endemic in the region.

Initially Oxfam will focus on emergency water supply, sanitation and health promotion in the capital, Quelimane, and in peri-urban areas of Nicaudala district.

In the recovery and risk-reduction phase, Oxfam and partners will provide flood-resistant permanent facilities for water and sanitation, and long-term health promotion through local committees and health workers.

In Mozambique, Oxfam has a long track record of working with local organizations in the areas of education, governance, livelihoods and disaster risk reduction (DRR), including the Mozambican Red Cross and Kukumbi.

Oxfam's initial focus will be on emergency water supply, sanitation and health promotion.

Notes to editors

Photos available here: http://files.zyncro.com/4TaaUP3

Contact information

Maria Herranz Gete, Intermón Oxfam (Spain) +91 204 67 20 / 615359401, mherranz@intermonoxfam.org