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Mozambique reconstruction continues amid difficulties

BY HEATHER MOYER | Baltimore, MD | June 30, 2000

Three months after floodwaters have receded in Mozambique, reconstruction goes on despite difficulties.

Many faith-based response groups, working in coordination with Church World Service and Action by Churches Together, are actively helping the

people of Mozambique recover from the damage two cyclones caused when they hit the South African country in February and March of this year. Some

500,000 people were displaced and 640 were killed in Mozambique's worst natural disaster in history. Ten percent of the nation's farmland was destroyed

and 90% of the irrigation systems were damaged as well.

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) reported that transporting relief supplies through the country has been very difficult.

CRWRC's work is focused in the capital city of Maputo and the provinces of Gaza and Sofala -- the hardest hit regions of Mozambique. "There are many

transportation problems because lots of roads are still washed out," said Amanda Wilms of CRWRC. "In some places we have to use tractors to bring in

housing supplies because of the rough terrain."

Since March, CRWRC has helped almost 500 families return to their home villages with building sets for their new shelters. The sets consist of poles and

10 sheets of corrugated roofing material. The families also receive family sets, which include pots, pans, blankets, and other personal need items.

Thousands more families are expected to receive these building kits as they return to their villages.

The Presbyterian Church of Mozambique, the Nazarene Church of Mozambique, the Reformed Church of Mozambique and other local churches are

partnering with CRWRC in the rehabilitation work.

The first half of a two-part seed and tool CRWRC relief program is now finished. In total, 10,000 families are expected to benefit from the CRWRC relief

program. The villagers who were able to return received hoes, machetes, and axes, along with enough seeds to reestablish their farmland and food

security. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank donated 125 metric tons of seeds for this part of the program.

Part two of the program will start in September when the remainder of the villagers can return and start rebuilding.

The final phase of CRWRC's rehabilitation program will involve the restocking of small animals -- mainly goats and sheep.

"Tens of thousands of small animals were lost in the flooding," said Joan Cosby of CRWRC. "Small animals are very important for the long term

well-being of farm families."

CRWRC is also assisting with the training of local church members to handle all the management that comes with relief work. "To assist local churches,

we have supplied specialists in logistics management and accounting, financed the hiring of local staff and purchased much-needed equipment, including

computers and other office tools," Cosby said. "Our East Africa disaster relief coordinator has provided the local partners with training and support in

accounting, communications, disaster mitigation, project planning, and implementation."

International Aid, a Michigan-based Christian relief agency, is focusing on the threat of disease still plaguing the country. Malaria is the most common

disease and a lack of medicine is making it even more prevalent.

"Malaria is the biggest killer of young children and the elderly," said International Aid team leader Sonny Enriquez. "We're trying to come up with

anti-malaria drugs, but we're also going beyond curing by working on malaria prevention as well."

International Aid is sending mosquito netting to assist in controlling the disease-carrying insect. In addition, the group is starting mass fumigation with a

chemical that kills the mosquitoes without harming humans or the environment. International Aid has already sent three shipments of food, blankets,

hygiene products, re-hydration tablets, and medicine to Mozambique.

Enriquez added that the relief from many agencies has been slower to get to the needed places since the government lifted the 'emergency' declaration

for the country. Many needed supplies going through customs are moving more slowly even though the situation is still urgent, said Enriquez.

International Aid has planned long-term assistance for Mozambique but it does depend on available resources. "We're hoping to get more involved, but

right now we're just trying to take it one step at a time," said Enriquez.

World Vision is also in the country. The organization is still sending thousands of survival kits, which are comprised of food, blankets, cutlery, cookery,

and health care items. World Vision is extensively using a 'food for work' program that gets the local communities involved in repairing everything from

roads to buildings.

"We're also focusing on crop storage as many silos were destroyed in the flooding too," said Ben Campbell of World Vision. "We hope to help them

construct better storage that can keep out pests, a problem that many had before the flood."

World Vision plans to help plant some 72,500 fruit trees since most fruit trees were wiped out. Goat restocking is also on the group's list as they plan to

purchase 1,440 goats for people. "The goat program is a rotating program in that the people must eventually return the same amount of goats they

received," said Campbell.

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