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FAO raises alert on high flooding risks in parts of southern Africa

FAO helps governments prepare as rising waters threaten food security

Photo: ©FAO/AFP/Johannes Myburgh
Women in Mozambique flee floods
7 February 2011, Rome - Thousands of hectares of agricultural land and crops have been damaged by floods and heavy rains in parts of southern Africa, and more damage may occur in the coming weeks  if above normal rains persist. 

This is raising concern about the food security of the affected population in the poorer parts of the sub-region over the coming months. 

With the rainy season still only half way through, and with the cyclone season due to peak in February, several agricultural areas along the rivers in southern African countries remain at high risk of flooding, including portions of Botswana, Lesotho Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. 

Food insecurity already critical

“Food insecurity levels are already critical in the affected areas of some of these countries and floods will only further worsen the ability of poor farmers to cope and feed their families in the coming months,” said Cindy Holleman, FAO Regional Emergency Coordinator for Southern Africa. FAO is working with regional and national early warning systems to monitor the evolution in major river basins and to assess the impact on food crops. 

Crops destroyed in Lesotho and Mozambique
 

In Lesotho, for example, one of the poorest countries in the sub-region, an FAO assessment team found that in some of the flooded areas up to 60 percent of harvests have been lost and over 4 700 livestock, mainly sheep and goats are dead. 

Localized crop losses are also reported along river banks in southern and central Mozambique. The government has declared a red alert for central and southern Mozambique as water flows in the major rivers are above alert levels.  

South Africa has already declared a national state of disaster in many districts of the country due to the floods that have destroyed thousands of hectares of crop land, and caused damages estimated in the millions of dollars.     

FAO participates in flood assessments
 

A full assessment of the impact of floods on this year’s cereal crops is not yet available.

FAO is taking part in various flood impact assessments being undertaken throughout the region. In addition, the Organization is providing governments with technical advice on flood monitoring systems, preparedness, and measures to prevent the outbreak or spread of animal disease, while simultaneously preparing for possible agricultural aid interventions such as the delivery of quality seeds, and restoring agricultural activities after flood waters recede.