Episcopal Relief & Development Assists Mozambique Flood Response

March 7, 2013

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting emergency flood response and recovery efforts in Mozambique through two dioceses of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.  Both the Niassa Diocese in the northern part of the country and the Lebombo Diocese to the south have experienced severe flooding.  An estimated 250,000 people have been impacted.  The Church’s two-fold response will provide immediate relief to approximately 2,200 displaced families, and assist with replanting after flood waters recede.

Mozambique’s rainy season began in October, and heavy precipitation has caused nine of the country’s major river basins to overflow.  Reports indicate that around 100 people have died as a result of the flooding, and the country’s infrastructure has suffered greatly.  Roads and bridges have washed out, disrupting travel and trade, and homes, schools, businesses and agricultural lands have been inundated with water.  The Mozambique Disaster Management Coordination Council issued a red alert on January 22, and the Mozambican government is collaborating with the United Nations and various non-governmental and Church bodies to assess and respond to local needs.  The dioceses of Niassa and Lebombo are currently working with local government agencies to identify communities and households that are most in need of assistance.

“I am writing as many people, dozens of thousands, some of them members of our Church including the Archdeacon of Limpopo, [the] Ven. Xavier Muaga, are displaced as the town of Chókwe is completely underwater,” wrote the Rt. Rev. Dinis Salomão Sengulane, Bishop of Lebombo, in a statement on January 24.  “It is not just rain but also water from rivers that run through the country that are having rains at the moment.  The situation is dramatic and it calls for response if we are to avoid more damage to the lives of people.”

Action Social Anglican (ASA), the Lebombo Diocese’s relief and development agency, is reaching 1,000 households in three impacted communities in Gaza Province.  They are providing food assistance (rice, corn and beans) for immediate consumption, and school materials to replace those that were lost in the floods, ensuring that children can continue with their studies.  To the north, in Niassa Diocese, the Church’s mission department is working with 20 communities in Zambezia Province to distribute corn and water purification supplies to around 1,200 farming families.  After the flooding subsides, both dioceses plan to assist replanting efforts by providing seeds and cuttings so families can restart their kitchen gardens and agricultural endeavors.

In addition, the Niassa Diocese is also planning to take action to reduce the vulnerability of communities in the flood plain by developing and implementing disaster risk reduction techniques.  Staff will provide training in sustainable agriculture techniques that will allow people to farm in drier areas that are out of the flood zone, and water pump repair will enable irrigation and water accessibility at higher elevations.  The introduction and scaling up of composting will improve waste management and help improve soil quality.  Constructing fuel-saving stoves will reduce the need to cut down trees for firewood, reducing the risk of erosion and benefiting air quality.  The diocese also plans to implement programs that address HIV prevention and management, since untreated HIV exacerbates a family’s vulnerability to disaster.

The longer-term activities of the Niassa Diocese are part of its broader disaster risk reduction initiative, which it is implementing in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development.  The cycle of flood and drought is becoming increasingly severe and unpredictable in Mozambique, threatening the livelihoods of the 85% of households that rely on agriculture for food and income.  Strengthening community infrastructure increases quality of life and boosts resilience after disasters, so these improvements in land, water systems and housing will benefit families both immediately and in the future.

“As part of Episcopal Relief & Development’s efforts to stand in solidarity with our global partners, particularly in times of disaster, we are developing a response that addresses immediate relief needs and also brings in a longer-term mitigation and preparedness component,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.  “The Diocese of Niassa serves on our commissioned international forum on disaster risk reduction, which is in the process of developing a disaster risk reduction toolkit for the Anglican context.   We are grateful for their partnership and valuable contributions to this important effort.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.