Mozambique floods

Flooding in Chokwe City, Mozambique. January 2013

In late January, strong flooding caused significant damage in the Chokwe District in Mozambique, including Ditosa’s village in Matuba.

Ditosa’s community was forced to relocate 30km away to a camp in Chiaquelane, where it is estimated more than 70,000 people have fled. Across this southern region of Mozambique there are more than 150,000 (including 87,500 women, 29,500 children under five and 67,500 men) people affected by the devastating floods.

Mama Cacilda, Director of Caritas Chokwe (our partner that runs the Matuba Children’s Centre) has informed us that this is the worst flooding she has seen in Matuba since 2000. Many houses, including Ditosa’s, have been severely damaged, as most are built of mud brick. The Matuba Children’s Centre and surrounding buildings have been resistant to the flooding so far. Mama Cacilda also reports that Ditosa, her family and community residents are now safe in the camp.

20 Feb 2013 – An update from the ground

Following the devastating flood situation, Ivy Khoury, Caritas Australia’s Africa Program Coordinator, travelled to Matuba to provide support to Mama Cacilda and Caritas Chokwe. Caritas staff themselves have been living in the camp for the past few weeks, where they continue to serve thousands of people including 29,000 children.

Yesterday, Sr Ivy spoke with Ditosa and learned that her family was sadly one of the 43 families who had lost everything, including their houses and crops.

“When the floods came on 23 January, Ditosa was at the Centre. The children were asked to hurry and go back to their homes, however, when Ditosa arrived she found that the water had reached half way up her house. She searched for her grandmother and sister and could not find them so she went to a neighbour’s house who looked after her for five days. You would not believe it but for five days, Ditosa stayed on the top of one of the trees with this family. In the meantime her grandmother and sister lived on top of the roof of a house.

After five days without eating or drinking anything, the water went down so that Ditosa could go to the camp where she stayed there for one week. At that time, her grandmother and sister stayed at the chief's house. Ditosa was suffering of vertigo at that stage so needed to eat and rest in the camp with 70,000 other people!

When Ditosa and her family returned to the house they saw it was in ruins. Absolutely nothing was left. The mud walls had fallen down and there were holes everywhere.”

Caritas Australia will continue to stand in solidarity with Ditosa, her family and the people of Matuba, and we will update you on the situation as more information comes to hand.

Caritas' response

Caritas Australia is providing immediate emergency response to help affected communities such as Matuba and the camp at Chiaquelane. Caritas and CAFOD (our Caritas counterpart in England and Wales) are working with our local partners to provide 7,850 of the poorest and most vulnerable people, including children and people living with a disability, with shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical supplies.

Read more: Urgent need for aid after massive floods in Mozambique (Media Release: 7 February 2013)

How does Project Compassion help?

Through the Matuba Children’s Centre, Project Compassion has helped the most vulnerable people of Matuba access food, nutrition, medical services, educational support and livelihood training.

The people of Matuba are now stronger and have more resilience to respond quickly to these repetitive floods that devastate their community.

After our immediate emergency response phase, Caritas Australia, through Project Compassion, will continue to support the people of Matuba. We will help rebuild their vibrant community so the residents can look to the future with hope in their hearts.

Read more:

Ditosa's story from Project Compassion 2013
Integrated Community Development program in Mozambique's Gaza Province