December 15, 2001

MOÇAMBIQUE: Heavy rains and floods in the South / Debt relief

The southern city of Inhambane was virtually cut off from the rest of the country by road, due to flooding in the Jangamo peninsula, Radio Moçambique reported on 15 December. Torrential rains in the area have swollen local rivers, and made the only road into Inhambane impassable. Stretches of the Lindela-Inhambane road are under 30 centimetres or more of water, and are regarded as highly dangerous.

Meanwhile the Moçambican meteorology office has warned of the saturation of soils in parts of the southern provinces due to above normal rainfall in October and November. The head of the weather forecasting department in the meteorology office, Mussa Mustafa, has pointed out that average rainfall in Maputo province for the October to December period is 300 millimetres. However, at the Maputo city measuring station 460.36 millimetres fell in October and November, and at Changalane, near the border with Swaziland, the rainfall for these two months was an alarming 585.8 millimetres. "The soil is absorbing a lot of water, and if it continues like this we shall easily have water on the surface throughout the critical period of the rains from January to March", said Mustafa. With this situation, if any rivers break their banks, the saturated soils cannot absorb any more water, and major flooding could result". Heavy rains upstream, in South Africa and Swaziland, have already substantially raised the levels of some of the major Moçambican rivers.

Meanwhile, the Moçambican and French governments signed an agreement in Maputo on 30 November under which 29.8 million euros (about $26 million) of Moçambique’s debt to France is to be cancelled. Under the agreement these funds from debt servicing will be redirected into programmes to relieve absolute poverty in which an estimated 70 per cent of the Moçambican population is living. The contract is for three years, but France hopes to follow it with further contracts until the entire debt ($95 million) is wiped out. The funds released by this agreement will be channelled according to the priorities set forth in the government's Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA). Meanwhile, Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama on 28 November stated that his country has cancelled $150 million of Moçambique's bilateral debt. (MOZAMBIQUE NEWS AGENCY)

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