Flood Water Swamps Caprivi

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By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Water from the raging Zambezi River, presently in flood, has surrounded many villages in flood-prone areas in Caprivi making hundreds of settlements inaccessible by road and prompting villagers to start the annual migration to higher, drier ground. By yesterday the level of the Zambezi had risen to 5,36 metres and was still on the rise. Vincent Simana, the senior water technician in the Department of Water Affairs at Katima Mulilo said the settlements already surrounded by water are: Malindi, Schuckmannsburg, Nankuntwe, Mpukano, Namiyundu, Iivilivinzi and Mbalasinte. All of them could only be accessed through boat or by dugout canoe and some schools will have to be relocated on an ad hoc basis when they reopen next term. He said by today a team will be sent to the affected areas to conduct a needs assessment to ascertain what kind of assistance, if any, should be availed to the affected people. Simana said banana boats without outboard motor engines might be availed by the Regional Emergency Management Unit (REMU) whose mandate is to assist villagers. Simana, an authority on seasonal flooding occurring in the Caprivi says he expects the water level to peak in April before it starts to subsidise in May, adding that the highest level recorded in 2003 was 6,64 metres; in 2004 the highest mark tallied was a record 7,04 metres, while last year the water in the river peaked at 3,20 metres. In a related development the regional information office said the meeting convened last week to discuss the possible relocation of students, teachers and villagers to drier, higher ground was characterised by confusion among some officials serving in REMU. Chief Kisco Liswani III, whose tribe the Masubia inhabit the lower-lying Kabbe Constituency where floods occur on a yearly basis, expressed concern through his senior representative Ngambela Chrispin Katukula that he felt he is being kept in the dark. The chief apparently wanted to know what logistics are in place to assist his subjects to relocate safely to higher ground. The regional NBC office is also apparently in the dark, as it is not being given adequate information by REMU to enable it to issue regular bulletins to the affected communities. REMU, some of whose members are the subject of a high-level investigation into the food debacle that saw several tons of maize meal meant for the needy going to waste, was last week blasted in the manner in which it is handling the flooding in Kabbe Constituency. Apart from the traditional areas being inundated, other areas in Sibbinda and Linyanti constituencies have also been flooded by above average rains that have poured over the Caprivi and other parts of the country. Houses have also been flooded. On top of the flooding, some villagers have had their crops ravaged by marauding wild animals such as elephants and buffalos that are in abundance because of the formation of conservancies, according to the people who spoke to New Era.