(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Manica Province lashed by rain

The wife of a fisherman wades out to meet her husband returning from fishing in the Zambezi River near Mopeia,Mozambique, 2008.
David Gough/IRIN

Five of the 23 districts in Manica Province in central Mozambique have been "severely affected" by heavy rains.

Raul Conde, president of the municipal council of Chimoio, the provincial capital, told IRIN that 80 dwellings had collapsed as a result of the rain, and nearly half the town's roads had either been damaged or made impassable by flooding.

He said many of the dwellings destroyed were "built in areas prone to erosion - wetlands and green areas - making them vulnerable in the rainy season."

Above average rainfall in recent months has led to localized flooding across southern Africa from Angola to Madagascar, causing millions of dollars of damage and hundreds of deaths. Up to nine deaths this year have been linked to weather events such as floods and lightning.

The rainy season in Mozambique begins in October and ends in March. In 2000, wide-scale flooding, mainly in the central provinces, killed more than 700 people and destroyed large swathes of crops, leading to food insecurity.

This year, the government’s initial estimates put the number of people that could be adversely affected by flooding at 1.3 million. However, the country has vastly improved its disaster reaction systems since 2000.

Health concerns

Floodwater has also cut through a traditional cemetery in Mudzingaze, a poor suburb on the outskirts of Chimoio, raising fears that the town’s health could be endangered.

"It really is a concern, as it can promote disease," because most of the population source their drinking water from traditional wells, which could become contaminated, Carlos Mualia, Chimoio's administrator, told IRIN.

There are at least 11 traditional burial sites in and around Chimoio, some located in flood-prone areas.

The home of Emilio Santos was one of those too badly damaged to occupy, and he, his wife and four children are now sleeping in the open.

"Today it will rain again. I have nowhere to sleep, and no food. In fact, even if we had food I do not know where we would cook,” his wife told IRIN as she comforted her son on her lap. “My house was completely destroyed by erosion. It has rained a lot in our city."


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