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Flooded Xai Xai, a town that sits on the Limpopo River that burst its banks flooding southern Mozambique, February 2013.
ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Tracey Wilson (SA) is part of a two-person SRT in Mozambique currently assessing the need for emergency shelter following widespread flooding that has displaced tens of thousands of people. She reflects on her experience so far:
'We travelled to Chiaquelane, the biggest camp in the Gaza province. It's near Chokwe, the city that has been one of the hardest-hit areas by the floods. Most of its 70,000 residents escaped with whatever they could grab as the Limpopo River burst its banks engulfing their homes. It has been recorded that there are over 55,000 people living here.
'Tents and plastic sheeting are scattered all over the bush. People are living everywhere. Water is provided by eight wells and water trucks delivered daily. Informal traders have set up stalls in and around the site. The camp also provides food once a day.
'Apparently 4,500 more people have arrived in the last few days as news spread that more floods are anticipated. Even though the water levels are reducing in Chokwe, the local Government has advised people not to return to their homes.
‘I spoke to 20-year-old Maria Masevi who has been living at Chiaquelane camp for one week. She told me how she moved here with her family from Chicowane, also near the Limpopo River, as the floods destroyed their home, crops and land where their cattle grazed. They have been left with nothing.
20-year-old Maria Masevi who fled her home in Chicowane to Chiaquelane camp with no possessions with her family as it flooded, Mozambique, February 2013.
'We have also travelled to Xai Xai which is almost 200 kilometres from Maputo on the coast, where SRT member David Good (SA) and I flew into. This town sits on the Limpopo River, which has overflowed due to the recent heavy rains into the surrounding farmlands that are crucial to the local people's livelihoods.
'There is one single road entering Xai Xai and the fields of water start about eight kilometres out of town. Many houses have been destroyed by the floodwaters in and around the area too. A makeshift bridge has even been set up to allow the flow of traffic into the town. The locals are also forced to travel on boats to reach their homes on the higher lying areas.
'The local Government disaster unit has established five camps to accommodate these displaced families.
'We are continuing more needs assessments in other hard-to-reach areas with the help of the Rotary Club of Polana and the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC). We will then bring in ShelterBoxes if a need is found and we can find viable options for distribution.'