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Cablegate: The Flooding in Mozambique: Facts and Background

P 110545Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8436

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000035

SIPDIS


AIDAC

STATE FOR AF AND AF/S
STATE PASS TO USAID
USAID FOR DCHA FOR KLUU, CPRATT, LPETERSEN AND JDWORKEN
USAID FOR AFR/SA FOR ELOKEN AND DMENDELSON
PRETORIA FOR USAID HHALE, JWESSEL AND PDISKIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AFIN AMGT MZ EAID
SUBJECT: THE FLOODING IN MOZAMBIQUE: FACTS AND BACKGROUND
INFORMATION

REF: MAPUTO 00022


1. SUMMARY: FLOOD LEVELS OF THE ZAMBEZE RIVER IN MOZAMBIQUE
CONTINUE TO RISE, BUT ARE STILL WITHIN THE FLOOD PLAIN.
ACCORDINGLY, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MOZAMBIQUE (GRM) HAS
NOT YET DECLARED A DISASTER. AT THIS POINT IN THE RAINY SEASON,
THESE LEVELS DO RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL FUTURE FLOODING.
CONTINGENCY PLANNING CONTINUES. PEOPLE ARE STILL RESISTING APPEALS
BY THE GRM FOR THEM TO MOVE OUT OF THE FLOOD ZONES. WATER LEVELS
FOR THE THREE BASINS BEING MONITORED (ZAMBEZE, PUNGWE AND SAVE)
REMAIN HIGH. END SUMMARY.

2. RAINS IN NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES AND MOZAMBIQUE HAVE CAUSED
FLOODING AT LEVELS MORE OFTEN SEEN IN FEBRUARY AND NOT JANUARY,
CAUSING CONCERN THAT FLOODING MIGHT BE WORSE THIS YEAR THAN LAST
YEAR. HOWEVER, THE GRM REPORTS, SO FAR, THAT ALL RELOCATED FAMILIES
ARE PRESENTLY IN SAFE ZONES AND NO OUTBREAKS OF DISEASE HAVE
OCCURRED.

3. THE GRM HAS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED THAT THREE PEOPLE HAVE DIED (SEE
REFTEL) AS A RESULT OF THE CURRENT FLOODING. THE THREE DEATHS
ATTRIBUTED TO THE RECENT FLOODING TOOK PLACE IN THE DISTRICT OF
NHAMATANDA (SOFALA PROVINCE) WHICH IS IN THE PUNGWE RIVER BASIN.
TWO OF THE DEATHS WERE CHILDREN.

4. THE GRM STILL HAS NOT DECLARED AN EMERGENCY. THE HEAD OF
MOZAMBIQUE'S NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (INGC) HAS BASED
HIMSELF AT THE EMERGENCY OP CENTER (CENOE) IN CAIA AND IS CONSTANTLY
ASSESSING THE SITUATION. HOWEVER, LOCAL ADMINISTRATORS IN THE
AFFECTED DISTRICTS HAVE ARGUED THAT THE SITUATION IS DIRE.

5. COMMENT: WE BELIEVE THAT THE LOCAL ADMINISTRATORS MAY BE MAKING
A PLAY FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE TO BE PROVIDED SO THAT THEY ARE SEEN
AS PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS. THE ADMINISTRATORS
HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY VOCAL IN THE LOCAL PRESS THAT ASSISTANCE IS
URGENTLY NEEDED, WHICH COULD BE RELATED TO LOCAL ELECTIONS PLANNED
FOR LATER THIS YEAR; THEY MAY BELIEVE THAT THE PROVISION OF
ASSISTANCE WOULD HELP THEIR RE-ELECTION. END COMMENT.

6. THE GRM IS ASKING FOR RESIDENTS IN FLOOD ZONES TO LEAVE.
THEREFORE, IT APPEARS THAT THE RESIDENTS IN THE FLOOD ZONES ALONG
THE ZAMBEZE RIVER RETURNED TO THESE AREAS AND REBUILT HOMES DESPITE
THE FLOODS OF LAST YEAR AND DESPITE THE EXHORTATIONS OF THE GRM TO
RE-LOCATE TO HIGHER GROUND. MOREOVER, MANY ARE NOT RESPONDING TO
THIS YEAR'S EVACUATION ANNOUNCEMENTS AND ARE STILL IN POTENTIAL
DANGER.

7. COMMENT: CONTINGENCY PLANS PRESENTLY PROJECT THAT WHILE 1.7
MILLION WILL BE AFFECTED, ONLY 282,000 PEOPLE WILL BE IN NEED OF
FOOD ASSISTANCE. IT IS APPROPRIATE TO BEGIN PLANNING FOR
HUMANITARIAN RELIEF, SHOULD THE GRM DECLARE AN EMERGENCY THIS YEAR.
HOWEVER, SOME GRM OFFICIALS ARE FRUSTRATED THAT, IN THE CASE OF THE
ZAMBEZE FLOOD ZONE, FOOD ASSISTANCE IS BEING PLANNED FOR THOSE WHO
RETURNED TO LIVE IN THE FLOOD ZONES AGAIN AFTER BEING TOLD THAT THEY
SHOULD NOT REBUILD IN THOSE AREAS. PRESENTLY, THE GRM IS
CONSIDERING THE POSSIBILITY OF LIMITING FOOD DISTRIBUTION TO
RELOCATION CENTERS AND NOT PROVIDING ASSISTANCE AT ACCOMMODATION
CENTERS. RELOCATION CENTERS ARE THE SITES THAT THE GRM HAS MADE
AVAILABLE FOR PEOPLE TO BUILD NEW PERMANENT HOUSING. THESE WERE
ESTABLISHED IN THE ZAMBEZE VALLEY AFTER LAST YEAR'S FLOODS.
ACCOMMODATION CENTERS ARE TEMPORARY SITES WHERE PEOPLE CAN WAIT
UNTIL THEY CAN RETURN HOME. THE CONCERN IS THAT PROVIDING DONOR
ASSISTANCE TO THOSE WHO RETURNED TO LIVE IN THE FLOOD ZONE AND NOW
NEED TO BE EVACUATED AGAIN THIS YEAR MIGHT ENCOURAGE A CONTINUED
LACK OF COMPLIANCE WITH GRM RELOCATION EFFORTS AND PERPETUATE THE
CYCLE OF ASSISTANCE IN THE FUTURE WHENEVER THE RIVERS SPILL INTO THE
FLOOD PLAINS. END COMMENT.

8. AT A RECENT DISASTER MANAGEMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL MEETING
(CCGC), IT WAS NOT/NOT DECIDED TO ISSUE AS A DISASTER DECLARATION AT
THIS TIME. THE DISCHARGE RATE FROM THE CAHORA BASSA DAM HAS
REMAINED STEADY, ALTHOUGH THE WATER LEVELS IN THE MID AND LOWER
ZAMBEZE CONTINUE TO RISE. THE PUNGWE HAS RISEN SLIGHTLY, WHEREAS
THE SAVE HAS NOT, ALTHOUGH IT IS EXPECTED TO RISE IN THE COMING DAYS
BECAUSE OF HEAVY RAINS IN NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES.

9. THE FEBRUARY TO APRIL FORECASTS HAVE A LOW TO MODERATE CHANCE OF
ABOVE AVERAGE RAINS IN NORTHERN MOZAMBIQUE, BUT INTERESTINGLY
ENOUGH, A LOW TO MODERATE CHANCE OF BELOW AVERAGE RAINS FOR SOUTHERN
MOZAMBIQUE.

10. ASSESSMENT TEAMS WILL BE IN THE FIELD NEXT WEEK TO GROUNDTRUTH
RECENT PRESS REPORTS. MISSION CONTINUES TO MONITOR THE SITUATION.

AMANI

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