Al Jazeera Blogs


Africa

The challenge of reaching a story

In order to cover a disaster, journalists must first get to the scene - easier said than done.
Last modified: 31 Jan 2013 00:16

One of the hardest things a journalist has to do is to negotiate to get on a flight with the military.

Soldiers generally don't want you around because you could be a liability and could get in the way.

When it's a food drop or a rescue mission journalists take up too much space - space that could go to that bag of grain or the woman with a baby who needs to be rescued after heavy rain and floods trapped her in her house.

We understand how things work, that's why we don't complain. That's why it took two days to get on a helicopter with the South African Air force because quite frankly they had other priorities.

But we were patient and it was worth it. We got to see the extent of the flooding in Mozambique, how much of the country has been affected, the extent of the damage and we got to meet people who've lost everything.

These floods are no where near those of the year 2000, but many people have been displaced and some have died. The death toll keeps rising - and could get worse because more rain is expected in February.

The guys with the South African Air Force spend the day flying food and supplies of food, mattresses, tents etc.  And everyday there seems to be something someone needs.

They have no idea how long they will be needed in Mozambique, it could be days, weeks or months.

The problem is so many people don't want to be moved to higher ground. They don't want to leave their homes and property unattended.

But if it keeps raining they could lose everything or die.

One woman I saw was cooking outside and the water from the rains was literally creeping closer to her. If the rains are heavier in February she will have to move or she could be killed.

I hope for her sake she chooses to save herself and not her possessions.