Tied to a tree to escape rising flood waters in Mozambique

Published: 6 February 2015 11:47 CET

Aguinaldo Almeida, Mozambique Red Cross Society and Carla Taylor, IFRC

When the floods hit the town of Furquia in the Lugela community, Zita Nunes was at her farm. Her husband, Sergio Pedro, was away fishing. Their eldest daughter, Ilda Sérgio, 13 years, was watching her five brothers. Ilda noticed people running in panic and heard a strange noise of river water rushing down the Licungo river. She immediately collected her brothers to go to the neighbour's house who was able to save them, and his own seven children and wife, by tying each person to a mango tree to ensure they would not be swept away.

It continued to rain heavily for two consecutive days, and the group remained stuck in the tree with no food or water. On the third day, Ilda’s parents, who were already in the accommodation centre in Namacurra district, were informed that their children were alive. They borrowed a canoe and were led to them.

Arriving on the scene the couple found their six children and the family of their neighbour. However, during the rescue, the force of the water capsized the canoe and their six year old daughter Alima Zito was swept away. The family and others searched for the girl for hours but she could not be located.

This family is now staying in the accommodation centre in Ronda, in Namacurra district, Zambezia province, as they lost all of the goods they had, including their house. They have benefited from the distributions of food kit, tarps, soap and the construction of a latrine. Mozambique Red Cross Society volunteers have also been organizing recreational and occupational activities for the 51 children at the centre.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is supporting the Mozambique Red Cross Society in responding to the flooding through the launch of an Emergency Appeal 847,607 Swiss francs to support 15,000 people (3,000 households) in Zambezia Province, the worst affected area, over six months. Efforts will focus on emergency shelter, health, water and sanitation, restoration of family links, and National Society capacity building and disaster risk reduction. Already, local Red Cross volunteers are on the ground in Namaccurra, conducting health and sanitation awareness sessions,  psychosocial support activities with the children and community members, and treating water to ensure safe access for the many people affected. Activities are also underway in building latrines in Namacurra, and further distributions are planned for all four of the regions targeted under the appeals.