- Posted February 17, 2013 by
Help needed to rebuild children's lives as flood waters recede
Plan International, Mozambique
Life seems to be returning to normalcy in the flood-hit town of Chokwe, in the southern region of Gaza, Mozambique, but in spite of concerted efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, residents are still faced with the reality of dwindling food stocks, disease outbreaks and costs of rebuilding destroyed social and economic infrastructure.
Electricity and water have been restored. The community is cleaning up in the aftermath of the worst floods in 13 years but the effect is still being felt, with women and children bearing the brunt.
Resulting from a massive surge down the Limpopo River, the floods have left a trail of destruction - destroying vast fields of maize, beans and rice as well as livestock, which most local women depend on for their livelihood.
Chokwe is mainly populated by women and children as many husbands have gone to South Africa in search of work.
From education to health, the impact of the marauding waters will continue to haunt the residents for some time to come, although signs that the waters are receding have raised hopes that all will be well soon.
Walking into a primary school located just a few meters from Chokwe town, it paints images of the agony that underlies the flood events. Pupils rummage through a heap of soiled torn papers that used to be their library books just a month ago - perhaps searching for any reading material that they can salvage.
Across the school compound, desks are scattered all over in the hope that rains will subside, and the sun which is out for the better part of the day will dry them allowing pupils to be able to read and write comfortably again.
Twelve-year-old Jeremy Muluki used to spend most of the afternoons in the library after his morning class but this is no longer possible.
“I love reading. It makes me sad that I don’t have anything to read anymore, not in school or at home. Everything has been washed away. I hope life will go back to normal soon and we can have our library back,” says Jeremy.
Like Jeremy, many other children cannot continue to access education facilities as expected. Teresa Ernesto Manhique, the director of the school, says most pupils cannot attend school because they are living in the makeshift camps with their parents.
Only a few pupils have returned to school, two weeks after the floods, she says.
“The pupils have to sit on the floor which is still damp, as they have nowhere else to sit. Most of them still don’t have enough to eat back at home, therefore even concentrating becomes a challenge,” she adds.
A few people have returned to their villages as the flood waters recede. They’ve started the tasking of cleaning up and trying to restore their homes. One can see on many roof tops the possessions they rescued. Some were put there for safe-keeping, others to dry out.
Oblivious of the tough struggle to return to a normal way of life, children play happily in the village. Others attend school and yet others like Jeremy living in hope that their libraries would be restocked soon.
Men too are seen sitting together enjoying an evening drink as women prepare dinner for their families while exchanging stories of the hard task ahead – that of rebuilding their lives, their villages, farms and livelihoods.
But these people need help. They need help to build resilience so that should the mighty Limpopo River ever flex its muscle again, they would be able to bounce back in a shorter time and with fewer, if any, losses at all.