|Mozambique struggles under flooding, cyclone|
Natural disasters have plagued Mozambique since
January, including a Feb. 22 cyclone with 270 kph winds that destroyed
the municipal market in Vilanculos. A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of
the Mozambique Annual Conference.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*
March 1, 2007
Bishop Joao Somane Machado
“We think God is testing our stillness,” said United Methodist Bishop
Joao Somane Machado in response to continued flooding and a cyclone
that have plagued Mozambique since January.
“We are aware that it is God who created everything including our
country. We are going to persevere on Him and stand still,” Machado
Heavy rains and severe flooding from the Zambezi River have deluged
the northern section of Mozambique, and a Feb. 22 cyclone with 270kph
winds assaulted the country’s southern region, worsening existing
humanitarian problems. The flooding also has impacted the African
country’s central region.
According to news reports and officials of The United Methodist
Church of Mozambique, at least 45 people have died and more than 250,000
are displaced by the severe weather. More rain is forecast as many of
the homeless have sought higher ground and are living in camps and
shelters made of grass and twigs. Hunger and a lack of sanitation are
issues as many survivors struggle with malaria and cholera.
During this rainy season, which does not end until late March, needs
are acute as the majority of displaced families also have lost maize and
Torrential rains began in December and have swamped a swath of
southern Africa from Angola on the Atlantic Ocean in the west to
Mozambique along the Indian Ocean. The National Institute for Disaster
Management estimates continued flooding eventually could displace more
than 500,000 people throughout the country.
Mozambique officials are attempting to control water flow through the
country’s massive Cahora Bassa Hydro-Electric dam. However, as
floodwaters rise, more water must be released, causing problems for
those living down river.
Men clear a road near Vilanculos after a cyclone added to
problems already caused by massive flooding. In all, the severe weather
has killed at least 45 people and displaced more than 250,000 others
since January. A UMNS Web-only photo courtesy of the Mozambique Annual
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, in partnership with Action
by Churches Together, has responded quickly to the crisis, providing
emergency grants and shipping shelter materials, blankets and kitchen
sets for 8,000 families through the United Methodist Church in
UMCOR is the agency that responds to disasters worldwide in behalf of
The United Methodist Church, providing relief and recovery work to
vulnerable people. Wherever possible, UMCOR partners with other
religious and secular organizations to pool resources and avoid
duplicating efforts and, in Mozambique, the agency is working with the
Machado said the Vilanculous District in the country’s Inhambane
Province was most affected by the cyclone. Homes have been
destroyed-including those of United Methodist pastors and church
members-and many schools, shops, cell phone towers and other
infrastructure are damaged.
“Many families are at the moment living in the UMC chapel (Central
United Methodist Church),” said the bishop. “The township is pathless
due to the cut-off trees and electricity poles that have blocked the
Flooding also has devastated churches in the United Methodist
districts of Nicuadale, Pebane, Chinde, Sofala, Maganja da Coasta, the
provincial capital of Quelimane and Tate. Churches, chapels and
parsonages in Chiruala, Nacunhe, Inhassoro, Mapinhane, Machuuquele,
Chibo and Maxanissee also have been destroyed or heavily damaged. The
parsonage of the Quelimane United Methodist Church is under water, and
the belongings of the Rev. Bene Cumbucane Diraiva are gone.
All the churches affected have partners with churches of the Missouri
Annual Conference, which enjoys a special relationship with the people
of Mozambique through its Mozambique Initiative
“‘Dramatic’ is the word I can use to describe the extent of
destruction of social and economic infrastructures,” said Initiative
director Carol Kreamer. “Accessing affected areas by automobile is
The Rev. Isaias Machegane, superintendent of The United Methodist
Church in the Zambezi province, contacted the Initiative about critical
needs such as bedding, food and fresh water, mosquito nets and clothing.
“People have lost everything,” he said.
Machado says more than 7,000 United Methodists are in the Zambezi Province and more than 5,200 in Tete.
“We would like to ask for your urgent assistance to address this
issue which is beyond our financial capacity. Your prayers and answers
of hope will be much appreciated in this moment of our darkest and
desperate situation,” he said.
Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries and does not have
resources to cope with the growing number of displaced people.
The United Methodist Church in Mozambique has 160,000 members in more
than 170 congregations in the 23 districts of two annual conferences.
There are 132 ordained pastors, 32 deacons and 278 evangelists.
The United Methodist Council of Bishops met in November in Maputo,
Mozambique, for its first-ever council meeting held outside the United
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza told the bishops that the
church’s commitment to social justice had created conditions helping
Mozambique become an independent nation and to begin to tackle poverty.
The president expressed openness to working with the church and listed
eliminating poverty as one of his top priorities.
The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the parent body for UMCOR, has established UMCOR
Advance #156500 to provide emergency relief, rehabilitation for
refugees and assistance for displaced people and communities.
Checks can be mailed to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087,
with the words “UMCOR Advance #156500, Mozambique Emergency” written on
the memo line. Credit card donations can be made by calling (800)
554-8583. Donations are being accepted at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/advance/donate.cfm?code=156500&id=3018386.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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United Methodist Committee on Relief
The Missouri Initiative
Mozambique country profile