Despite Massive Floods in Mozambique, Africa, Joint Aid Management (JAM) Continues to Focus on its Development Work

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In the worst flooding since the cataclysmic floods of 2000, where an estimated 800 people died, Mozambique is once again facing a humanitarian disaster. The town of Chokwe in the southern province of Gaza has been submerged under two meters of water since January 22, when the neighbouring Limpopo River flooded.

We won't stop our work until these communities are better equipped to enjoy a sustainable, food secure future.

The flooding forced an estimated 50,000 people to evacuate Chokwe, while the United Nations (UN) estimates that 150,000 people have been displaced and a total of 250,000 people have been affected by the flooding in the Gaza province. The majority of affected people have left for higher ground in neighbouring towns and temporary relief camps. Latest news reports estimate that at least 38 people have been confirmed dead as of Tuesday, January 29th.

Massive damages to JAM’s commodities

According to Joint Aid Management (JAM), whose central operating point for operations is in the Mozambican Province of Gaza in the town of Chokwe, JAM has not emerged unscathed from these recent floods as the surging floodwaters reached JAM’s warehouse and offices. JAM maintains a warehouse in Chokwe that normally stores up to 600 tons of food, donated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for JAM's nutritional feeding programs in the region. The Chokwe warehouse distributes food to 122 schools feeding 66,000 children every school day. 

The warehouse sustained significant damage and loss from the flood surge that reached 32 ft. (this is 17 ft. above the flood warning level), making it impossible for normal access to the site. The last of JAM’s staff members were evacuated three days after the flooding started when the water reached the second level of JAM’s offices. The isolation of the site from JAM's access point has exposed the site to looting of food and other equipment. “People are extremely hungry and there is no way of securing our premises at the moment,” a JAM staff member said.

The flooding has also resulted in massive damages to infrastructure including bridges, roads and buildings which are all still under water. It still needs to be determined how much of the infrastructure will remain. Early estimates indicate JAM’s losses around
$750,000 in reference to food, equipment, vehicles, furniture, spares and other items.

Thirty years of operation in Mozambique

JAM was founded almost 30 years ago as a result of extreme famine in Pambarra, Mozambique. JAM's Founder and CEO Peter Pretorius made a life changing decision never to be witness to such devastation again in the future. "Mozambique has come a long way in the last 30 years and while this isn't the same kind of devastation that I lived through with them, I am no less concerned about the impact of this event and remain completely committed that JAM will ensure the continuation of our school feeding programs now and beyond," said Peter.

JAM is currently assessing the situation in conjunction with the USDA, and early indications are that approximately 300 tons of food was lost. Approximately a150 tons of food has been salvaged and whatever resources they can, JAM and the USDA are finalizing contingency plans to plan the way forward. A report indicating the real impact on JAM’s program delivery in the Gaza Province of Mozambique will be compiled as soon as evaluation processes are complete.

Losses close to home

Chokwe Mayor Jorge Macuacua said that the town had been on high alert since Monday (January 21st) when the Limpopo River’s water level suddenly bypassed the flood level warning, and subsequently dramatically rose to reach 32 feet. JAM Mozambique’s Maintenance Manager also reported that the water was about waste deep in the warehouse where JAM’s Corn Soya Blend (CSB) food bags were being stored. At the time of flooding there were 450 tons of CSB in bags in storage.

JAM’s accountant in the Gaza province, Lovemore Mvududu’s, house was destroyed and all he managed to rescue was some of his clothes and certificates. “We are yet to find out what other losses our staff have experienced, but there are bound to be others. Despite staff members’ personal losses during this devastating period, it is encouraging to see that they remain committed and focused,” said Shingirai Mandizadza, Manager of Design, Monitoring and Evaluation (DME).

Committed to helping the community of Chokwe and so many others increase their levels of livelihoods and resilience towards disasters, JAM looks at this unfortunate display of events as temporary hurdles, which will not deter the organization from its ultimate goal throughout the continent, to Help Africa Help Itself.  

As Pretorius notes, "We won't stop our work until these communities are better equipped to enjoy a sustainable, food secure future. Along with our partners USDA, we will be working hard in the weeks ahead to bring normality to this situation and our programs in the affected areas of our work in Mozambique.

Notes to the editor:

Chokwe is located within the Limpopo’s lower basin and receives an unusually large amount of water from upstream due to factors such as high local rainfall aided by frequent cyclone activity, poor land management in the upper river basin, soil erosion and no management of upstream dams and wetlands. These factors combined with the flat landscape, which stops natural flood barriers from forming, leaves Chokwe and Gaza Province with little or no flood protection when the Limpopo floods.

JAM, a South African founded non-profit humanitarian organization with over 29 years of experience in relief and sustainable development, is an eyewitness to heartbreaking situations in Africa. We work within communities that suffer from often severe and unforgiving socio-economic circumstances as a result of abject poverty.

JAM’s programs focus on food security, micronutrient intervention, assistance to orphans and vulnerable children, the provision of water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS programmes, skills development, community-based agricultural development, and school infrastructure development.

JAM, a child-focused organization, currently assists more than 740 000 children through nutritional school feeding programs in four African countries: South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and South Sudan – and strives towards seeing this number increased to one million in the foreseeable future. JAM believes in focusing on the development of individuals to ensure better livelihoods and increased capacity within communities. Through JAM’s development programs communities can envisage a more sustainable future and share in JAM’s vision of helping Africa help itself.

JAM Mozambique’s feeding program currently consists of 321 000 beneficiaries across 691 schools in Mozambique.

For a more comprehensive picture about Joint Aid Management and the ways JAM positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals; the most vulnerable members of our society; kindly visit the JAM website at http://www.jamint.com

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Nancy Thompson
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