(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

More flood-affected in need of aid

[Zambia] Kala Refugee Camp in Zambia, UNHCR food distribution.

A total of 39,277 flood-ravaged Zambian households are in need of 9,547 mt of cereal for the next four months at least, according to a Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) report.

It had earlier been estimated that 21,200 people were affected when the Zambezi burst its western banks after heavy downpours early in the year.

However, an inter-agency mission led by the VAC has now reported that crops had suffered extensive damage, especially in the areas west of the Zambezi River, which were submerged during the flooding.

According to a situation report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the greatest losses had been recorded in Kalabo district in the Western province, where at least 14,000 households had lost most of their crops.

The Western and North Western provinces experienced widespread flooding this year due to "above normal" rains in the region. The flooding, which normally starts around February, began as early as December 2003. Among the areas affected are Senanga, Mongu, Kalabo and Lukulu in the Western province and Chavuma and Zambezi in North Western province.

OCHA reported that the water levels were still very high, and expected that the area would only have drained towards the end of July 2004.

"The movement of animals from the plains to upland areas is likely to accelerate the spread of CBPP (Contagious Bovine Pleuro-pneumonia, a livestock disease)," warned OCHA.

So far the Zambian government has pre-positioned 150 mt of maize in the affected districts and requested the Zambia Red Cross Society to distribute food to 1,575 households comprising 9,450 people in Chavuma, and 2,540 households with about 15,240 people in Zambezi, for a period of three months, said OCHA. Arrangements are being made to airlift the pre-positioned supplies.

It was noted, however, that "there is limited information available on the emergency assistance provided by other entities" to affected households.

OCHA itself has provided the Zambian Red Cross with US $43,500 to purchase 2,600 blankets, 25,200 bars of soap, 2,500 water containers, 350 construction poles and 110 rolls of plastic sheeting, which will be distributed next week in the Zambezi and Chavuma districts. The local Red Cross has also received US $19,500 from the International Federation of the Red Cross to purchase 135,000 water purification tablets.

The VAC has recommended a short-term targeted food assistance programme, the provision of agricultural inputs for the winter season, up-scaling of the CBPP vaccination programme and malaria control measures, supplementary immunisation activity targeting the under-five population in the affected districts and the provision of teaching materials for schools destroyed in the floods.

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