Floods displace thousands in southern Africa, UN says

Floods devastating infrastructure in the southern Africa region

27 March 2009 – Floods across southern Africa, caused by extreme rainfall, have caused massive damage to land and property and displaced thousands of people, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

In Angola alone, the lives of 160,000 people have been upset by the rains and OCHA fears that number is likely to increase, with schools and other public buildings being used as shelter, interrupting education and other public services.

With some $600,000 already allocated to various emergency actions in Angola, UN humanitarian agencies are requesting more funds for shelter, food and other necessities from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which is managed by OCHA.

In Namibia, where 13,000 people have been displaced, many health facilities and schools are either flooded or inaccessible, the Office reported.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba has declared an emergency for the north-central and north-eastern part of the country and appealed for international assistance. In response, a Flash Appeal based on the outstanding needs jointly identified by the Government, the UN and humanitarian partners, is being finalized.

In addition, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team has arrived in Namibia to help survey the situation and provide support to the local authorities.

Also in Namibia, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is assisting with sanitation and communication materials, as well as with planning for gaps in education and protection of displaced persons. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is also supporting protection projects within the relocation camps.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has allocated $27,800 to the Namibian Ministry of Health for emergency kits to ensure basic health care for about 10,000 people, which includes five tons of medicine for diarrhoeal diseases and other emergency materials.

On the east coast, Cyclone Izilda is now dissipating south-west of Madagascar but could still pour more rainfall onto central and southern Mozambique, OCHA said.

The Office added that international response to the previous two cyclones that affected Madagascar in January has been adequate, but $400,000 is still required as an emergency measure to rehabilitate 20 classrooms for some 3,000 children who risk losing an entire school year.

Most of Zambia, northern and southern Malawi, and northern Botswana have also been hit by deluges, OCHA said.


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