November 14, 2007

Resettlement an opportunity in fight against poverty, says Prime Minister

Resettlement of flood victims in the Zambezi Valley "is an opportunity to speed up the programmes under way to fight against poverty and to reduce the risks of future vulnerability", Prime Minister Luisa Diogo has declared. Replying to questions from deputies in the parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Diogo recalled that the floods along the Zambezi and Buzi rivers in January and February affected about 280.000 people. 55.000 of these went straight to resettlement areas, but other 107.000 others had to be put in 54 temporary accommodation centres (while the rest found shelter with relatives).
Experience from around the world shows that cramming large numbers of people into hastily erected centres is a recipe for the spread of diseases such as cholera and meningitis. But Diogo stressed that, in the Mozambican case, "we managed 54 accommodation centres for about four months, without outbreaks of any diseases". This was because the authorities ensured the provision of clean drinking water, and directed a massive latrine building campaign. Diogo said that 2.680 latrines were built in the centres in less than a week. urthermore education and health services were provided such that "in every accommodation centre every child had access to school, and every citizen had access to a health post". Diogo told the deputies that the overwhelming majority of flood victims had stayed in the centres, or in the resettlement areas. They had thus followed government recommendations and had not returned to their old homes on the flood plain or on islands in the Zambezi.
The following phase was to demarcate plots of lands where resettled families could build improved house "in the least possible time". This would turn "a success against vulnerability into a victory over poverty". The government had approved an initial budget of 61.3 million meticais (about 2.4 million US dollars) for the resettlement, and had distributed the money among the four provinces of the Zambezi Valley (Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia). She stressed that much of the resettlement plan was in the hands of the affected families themselves, led by community leaders and with support from the district administrations. So far some 500 improved houses had been built, but thousands of other families already had the bricks with which to build brick homes rather than traditional huts. As for the current rainy season, the government has again drawn up a contingency plan dealing with the strong possibility of drought in the south of the country and renewed flooding in the central provinces. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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