Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mozambique’s weather service key to flood disaster management

Isaiah Esipisu in IPS: Mozambique's government learned some tough lessons from the devastating floods that hit the country a decade ago. Experts say the disaster management plans drawn up since are a model for other African countries. The flooding in 2000 killed 700 people and displaced 4.5 million more. Since then, the government has increased the budgetary allocation for disaster management, put in place early warning systems, and established community-driven rescue systems. When heavy flooding occurred again in the 2007-2008 rainy season, an enhanced level of preparedness is credited with reducing the number of people affected. "…

"The meteorological services immediately embarked on a mapping program for all risk areas, where 10 to 15 individuals from every disaster risk areas were given proper training on rescue operations depending on the nature of natural disasters that usually affect that particular area," added Chilundo.

Now the country is actively developing villages that are better planned and constructed to withstand seasonal flooding. "Every year that there are no major disasters, we use the budgetary allocation to purchase land and resettle families living in the risky areas. Since 2006, we have relocated 120,000 families to safer areas, and the intervention is still going on," said Chilundo.

…The country has put in place early warning systems some of which are operated by community members. For example, a Non-Governmental Organisation called Munich Re Foundation is working in partnership with ‘Mozambique flood warning’ project to provide early warning services along Búzi River.

The ‘Búzi Early Warning System’ works by taking daily measurements of rain fall at strategic points in the river basin. This is done by people nominated from the affected areas, and usually given specialised training.

…Proper planning for disasters by laying down of preparedness strategies and early warning systems is an important way for the continent can build resilience to the climate change challenges....

The Limpopo River flooding southern Mozambique in 2000

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