Northern Floods Threaten Lives

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By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI The high level of water in the northern regions is currently threatening the lives of people. People affected by the situation are those in residential areas, school-going children and travellers from the rural areas. Although none of the education officials spoken to confirmed any disruption of school activities because of flowing rivers and over-filled oshanas, people in rural areas are believed to be affected. The Director of Education in the Oshana region, Dutte Shinyemba, told New Era that so far she has not received any report of water preventing children from going to school. The same was said by the Deputy Director of Education Elina Nghitwikwa in the Omusati region who said she had not received any such reports. However, she did not rule out the possibility of children being stranded and not being able to go to school. Omusati region shares some of the water pans, which could pose a threat to the people of Oshana region. In an interview, Chief Herman Ipumbu of Uukwambi Traditional Authority said the water in some areas under his jurisdiction had reached dangerous levels so much so that it prevented children from attending school. One of the schools he was informed was Ekuwa Primary School near Iilunga Yepa in Ompundja constituency. Some houses in the area of Iilunga Yepa and Oshitowa are also at risk of being flooded. Some of the residents who have been there since 1975 told Chief Ipumbu that the current water levels are unusual. He has also personally observed the water level at Ekamaba some 15 kilometres west of Oshakati and said it has reached high levels. The Director of Health in Oshana Dr Naftali Hamata said although the good rains are most welcome health workers were unable to reach Enkono, Ehafo and Okaukamasheshe rural clinics due to the water. He said only last week, his office received good news that roads to these areas will soon be upgraded to make them accessible during the rainy season. A health worker at Enkono clinic some 25 kilometres south of Oshakati echoed the director’s concern about the water levels in their area saying one had to use a four-wheel drive to reach Enkono clinic. But even that but was an uphill battle. Hamata noted that the name of the oshana (pan) says it all, that water will be all over the place more than any other region during this time. As a result he expects problems at some towns and villages. As a precautionary measure, he advised people who can afford to buy mosquito nets to do so and use them in order to protect themselves against mosquitoes. Hamata also cautioned pregnant mothers to stay near the hospitals in order to receive the necessary medical attention on time. They should also protect themselves against mosquitoes. According to Hamata, the cases of malaria this year are much lower than last year because the rain started very late. Last year, from January to February, about 4 726 cases were reported at outpatients facilities while those admitted were 196. This year during the same period only 469 cases of outpatients and 75 admission cases were reported.