On Higher Ground
Mozambique’s flood refugees
Floods in Mozambique are not uncommon. Some people, living nearthe rivers, have had to abandon theirhomes as often as four times in thelast seven years and then return to abare earth.
In 2008 the government offered the victims new lands far from the riversto harvest and raise their homes. Although having lost all they had, thepeople are looking with positive eyesto the future. This not trouble-freethough, since the new land is not asfertile as the old one. A future withoutthe chance of floods overwhelms thatof the bad lands.
“We are not going back” says ChiefChimundo, head of the agrarian community on the banks of Púngui riverin South Mozambique. On 26th December 2007 they had to evacuate theirhomes as the river flooded. Now theylive in Matua resettlement camps 6 kilometer from the river where there isno risk of floods.
Floods in Southern part of Africaare not uncommon. Zambese Riv-er, which runs through Zambia, Na-mibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique is the fourth biggest river inAfrica and Mozambique’s largest. In2001 the many of the rivers in Southand central Mozambique flooded including Zambese River, Púngui andBúzi. Resulting in more than 800deaths.
In the last seven years some farmers living on the banks of one of thebig rivers have had to evacuate fourtimes. But now they have had enoughof the insecurity of living in a danger area. Now they are making newhomes away from the river, permanent homes where the future looksbright.
Chief Chimundo is the now head ofthe resettlement camps Matua, wherethey have started to build permanenthomes. He says that they are tired ofthe floods: “We just want to make homes where we can grow corn, riceand mandioca [a potato like vegetable] without the risk of floods.”
The new land is not as fertile and the river is asource for fish. Now they live 6 km from the river,a little too long for them to walk every day to theriver to get fish. This is the main reason why people have not as of yet been positive to the idea ofliving away from the river. But now, as the floodsbecome more and more frequent people are getting fed up with living there. Most of the people living in the resettlement camps are planning to livethere permanently.