The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began relief flights today to provide vital humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by the extensive flooding along the Zambezi valley in central Mozambique.
Around 76,000 people have been displaced by the current floods.
Based in the town of Caia, WFP’s Mi8 helicopter flew its first missions this morning – carrying 2.5 mt of cereals and pulses on each flight to Goligoli, where over 13,000 people have been displaced by the floods and are in need of food assistance.
WFP is planning to deliver 74 mt of food to Goligoli, which should take the helicopter around 4-5 days.
The helicopter will deliver food and non-food supplies on a priority basis on behalf of the entire humanitarian community to displaced people in inaccessible resettlement areas. All flight and cargo decisions will be taken in consultation with the government’s National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) and other partners.
A second helicopter is on stand-by for deployment to Caia to enhance the humanitarian response.
Around 76,000 people have been displaced by the current floods. Many more remain stranded in areas that can no longer be reached by road. In particular, parts of Tete, Sofala and Manica Provinces are now inaccessible by land.
WFP has already begun delivering food assistance by road. Over 1,000 newly affected beneficiaries at the Bawe resettlement centre in Mutara district received WFP food assistance through World Vision last week.
Almost 14 tons of WFP food was also transferred by an INGC truck to the Beia-Peia accommodation camp on the flooded Save River last week for immediate distribution.
WFP has also provided the authorities with three boats to assist the rescue and evacuation operations and is considering hiring a large barge for relief distributions.
Before the current crisis, WFP had been providing assistance to around 190,000 people, who lost their crops during the Zambezi floods in early 2007 and have been living in resettlement areas. This caseload will also require food assistance until the next harvest.
Between February and December 2007, WFP distributed 14,500 mt of food assistance to beneficiaries in the resettlement centres in the Zambezi river valley.
WFP is working closely with the INGC to determine current beneficiary caseloads in the resettlement centres (both new and former beneficiaries) in order to resume food distributions as soon as possible.
An initial assessment of the food security situation was conducted last week. Led by the government and including WFP and other humanitarian partners, the assessment will give a clearer indication of the food security situation, including how much food assistance will be required.
WFP has 1,500 mt of food stocks near the flood-affected areas due to its ongoing operations in the area.
However, before the floods, WFP faced a shortfall of around 5,600 mt for its operations until the end of April. Considering the scale of the current floods and the increased needs along the Zambezi, this shortfall will increase substantially.