Emergency

Trip Start Nov 21, 2007
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Trip End May 20, 2008


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Flag of Mozambique  ,
Saturday, January 12, 2008

Last February in Mozambique, there was massive flooding which displaced approximately 170,000 people from their homes...hence my project, to work to construct water sources for these people who were forced to move from their former residences to new homes.  Well, things just got a lot more complicated here...

Heavy rains not only in Mozambique but also upstream in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Nambia have sent river levels rising, already almost reaching the highest level reached during the major floods of 2000.  So right after New Year's I went to investigate the situation in Caia (nearby city) whereby I found myself in the middle of a meeting of the National Disaster Response Organization...then being sent the next day to Mutarara (so far the hardest-hit area) to perform a rapid assessment. 

So I grabbed a Mozambican coleague and headed to Sena, where we need to cross the river to Mutarara...I managed to get the government to lend us a boat to use (after unsuccessfully lobbying to hitch a ride on their helicopter) and headed off to GoliGoli, a 2-hr boat ride down the (flooded) Zambezi River.  The river is absolutely huge and intimidating, and has an unbelievably strong current.  Upon arriving their it was another 20 minutes riding on the back of a bicycle to reach the village, where people from flooded areas are pouring in every day and attempting to construct temporary houses to protect from the rains. 

The next day, after again crossing the river, was tracking down a ride to 2 more villages which are receiving displaced people on a daily basis....my job was to quickly assess the water and sanitation situation in these places and report back on this, to see if we can provide any assistance.  At the end of the day I find myself in a meeting with government authorities, the Red Cross, other NGOs, all of us drinking a Fanta at a deserted cafe next to a flooding river, talking about how to coordinate an emergency response, me trying my best in Portugese to communicate my ideas...it is one of those moments where I think back to where I was 2 yrs ago, sitting in a cubicle in suburban Sacramento, designing ditches and calculating quantities of dirt...slightly different. 

Anyways, we are still in the project of assessing, but the river is still rising and things look like they may get bad...so in addition to my post-emergency project I was hired for, I am now preparing for a possible emergency-response in the Chupanga area.  We have new families, displaced from their homes, arriving in Chupanga and the surrounding area every day.  It is a confusing and stressful time and no one really knows what is about to happen. 
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