Mozambique News Agency

Floods update - 20th March 2001

Floods disrupt school for 42,000 pupils

Maputo, 20 Mar (AIM) - About 42,000 children in the central Mozambican provinces of Sofala and Tete are unable to study, because their schools have been flooded, reports Tuesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias".

In Sofala, the floods on the Zambezi and Pungue rivers have closed 50 schools in Chemba, Caia, Marromeu, Dondo, Nhamatanda and Buzi districts, depriving 17,000 children of their studies.

The situation is worse in Tete, where the floods on the Zambezi and its tributaries have completely destroyed 25 schools and inundated a further 50. 25,000 pupils and 370 teachers are affected in Tete.

The Tete provincial director of education, Niniano Reino, said that Inhangoma, in Mutarara district, was the worst hit area. All the educational materials in Inhangoma will have to be replaced, since the waters have swept everything away.

"The school year is seriously compromised in the province", said Reino, "particularly in those districts where the situation is very critical".

On the Zambezi, the Cahora Bassa dam is still releasing less water than the dam lake is receiving from Kariba and from the upstream tributaries.

On Monday, a day of torrential rain in the Cahora Bassa area, the lake was receiving 9,737 cubic metres of water a second, but the dam was only discharging 6,607 cubic metres a second. The result is that the level of the dam lake is continuing to rise.

At 326 metres above sea level at the dam wall, the lake is at its theoretical maximum capacity. But on Monday the level was 326.63 metres. If it continues to rise, the Cahora Bassa management will have no option but to open more floodgates.

In Tete city, the largest urban centre on the banks of the Zambezi, some of the suburbs remain flooded, and the river rose again on Monday (from 6.64 to 6.74 metres).

However, further downstream there was some relief for flooded areas, as the river dropped from 6.31 to 6.24 metres at Mutarara, and from 7.95 to 7.89 metres at Caia. The river is still very high - flood alert level at Caia is five metres.

At Marromeu, the Zambezi was stable on Monday at about 7.63 metres. The river has thus not reached the critical level of eight metres at which the dike protecting the centre of Marromeu town would be overwhelmed.

Further south there are concerns about the Buzi river. On Monday the Chicamba dam, located on the Buzi's main tributary, the Revue, opened one of its floodgates. The Chicamba floodgates had been closed since 9 March.

But heavy rains in Zimbabwe led to a sharp rise in the Chicamba dam, and so the authorities decided to open one floodgate 60 per cent, releasing 219 cubic metres a second.

Even before this, the Buzi was rising sharply. On Monday morning, it was measured at 5.89 metres at the small town of Goonda, compared with 5.67 metres two days earlier.

Renewed rainfall has also swollen the Save river, and the authorities have warned people to keep away from areas in the Save basin prone to flooding. (AIM)

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