Southern African Region Floods Preparedness and Response Plan 2008
Having hardly recovered from the floods of 2007, Southern Africa is once again facing unusually early and torrential rainfall that has so far – with half the rainy season still to come – damaged the homes and crops of about 449,000 people in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Among these, at least 120,000 have been displaced, more than 80% of them in Mozambique.
Regional forecasts indicate a likelihood of above-normal rainfall across most of Southern Africa until April 2008, and national weather authorities in the four affected countries predict that the rain is likely to continue with the same severity. At the same time, so far this season 11 tropical storms have formed, making it likely that by the end of the season in April 2008, the region will have experienced well over the predicted 12. This follows the most active and damaging cyclone season in recent memory in 2006/2007.
In all four countries, Governments have been the first responders. Given the very early onset and likelihood of further steady rainfall, all Governments have sought international assistance in implementing their contingency and response plans, in particular taking immediate preparedness measures to ensure a rapid response to a likely deterioration of the situation.
In Mozambique, which is already the most heavily affected and likely to be even more so in the coming weeks, there is a need to continue responding to the needs of resettled and newly displaced populations, while at the same increasing preparedness for a further deterioration of the situation.
While the flooding in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe has so far been localised, the early onset of the rains, and the likelihood of more, pose an imminent threat to populations living in the catchment areas of rising rivers, dams and lakes. Even normal levels of precipitation for the rest of the season would have a significant impact on the areas already affected by the heavy rainfall: some areas had already received 75% of their expected rainfall for the entire season by 10 January 2008, while others are recording more than double the amount of rain compared to the 30-year average.
To this end, there is an urgent need to prepare for this known and imminent threat, and to support the implementation of national contingency plans. It is particularly important to ensure the timely purchase of the required food, non-food items (NFIs), shelter materials, and supplies for health, nutritional, water, sanitation and education, because: 1) procurement of some commodities can take between one to four months; and, 2) many areas already are, or may become, inaccessible as roads and bridges are washed away or become submerged.
This plan represents an attempt to change the pattern of previous flood appeals for Southern Africa, which have tended to be launched some time after the peak of the floods and after humanitarian needs had already become acute and large-scale. It argues that prevention will be cheaper than remedy, and more important, will be more effective in averting suffering and deepening of vulnerability that would set back the region’s development agenda again. Moreover, the plans for international organisations crystallised in this appeal dovetail with national plans and reflect an agreed division of labour with the respective Governments in flood preparation and response.
This appeal seeks US$89 million to help international partners (27 non-governmental organisations, 11 United Nations organisations, the International Organisation for Migration, and the Mozambican Red Cross) support Governments in addressing the needs of more than 449,000 people already affected by the floods, as well as to undertake preparedness measures in all four countries to address the needs of another approximately 805,000 at immediate risk of being affected, for a total targeted population of 1.3 million. Targeted assistance will be provided during the next six months, while concerted efforts will be made to mobilise longer-term programmes for recovery and mitigation. Regular assessments will be undertaken to ensure that the planned preparedness and response actions and the resources being sought for them remain relevant, timely and effective. The appeal will be regularly updated to reflect new needs as the situation evolves.
Swaziland and Lesotho have also experienced heavy rains affecting some 2,600 people. These Governments have not sought international assistance and are therefore not included in this appeal. Activities in this appeal for Zimbabwe focus on the impact of floods during the 2007/08 rainy season, and complement broader activities already included in the 2008 Consolidated Appeal for Zimbabwe.