Floods Could Sink Project

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By Chrispin Inambao KATIMA MULILO More pre-construction consultations, particularly with water experts and environmentalists, should have taken place before the site chosen for the construction of the N$75-million Katima Mulilo Waterfront project was selected. This sentiment was expressed during an interview last Friday with Vincent Simana, the Senior Research Technician in the Division of Water Environment, Water Affairs. Work has already started in earnest with the construction of a sandy embankment on the project along the Zambezi that could rejuvenate the town’s moribund economy. But Simana feels recurring floods from the Zambezi River could jeopardise the region’s largest post-independence project if no remedial measures are taken to rectify the oversight. He was adamant the floodwater and underground seepages could in the long run ruin what is otherwise a good-intentioned project meant to benefit all residents of Caprivi. He emphasised his rationale saying initially the contractor had erected the embankment to a certain height but was compelled to truck in more sand when the water level rose. By last Friday the water level rose by 5 cm from Thursday’s reading of 6.85 m to 6.85, a level that was only attained on March 24 in 2004 when the floods peaked at 7.04 m. He said by March/April when floods reach their pinnacle the water level could rise and predictions are that by next week that it could eclipse the 7.00 m marking on the gauge plate. At Lukulu in western Zambia the water level has already surpassed 7.00 m and it is from this area where a flood wave meandering towards the Caprivi originates. The senior researcher, who earlier last week paid a ground visit to some of the settlements that are presently inundated said the bush paths leading to Sifuha, Malindi, Schuckmannsburg, Nsundwa, Muzii and Nankuntwe and Impalila and Kasika are now inaccessible because they are all covered with flood water. While subsistence farmers at Musanga, Lisikili, Libulabula, Kalimbeza, Kalundu, Isize, Malindi, Schuckmannsburg and in the Ikaba area have already endured extensive crop damage as the Zambezi River has inundated their maize fields before harvest time, Simana says the majority of the livestock from the cattle posts along the lower-lying settlements have been driven to drier, upper land at Lusese, Kabbe and 31 Miles. Though the grass is still in abundance at this time of the year he was of the view that the areas where the cattle have been driven could be stripped of grass because of overcrowding. At Lisikili, Libula and at Kalimbeza some huts are also under water and the present floods have brought with them the problem of crocodiles that are a danger to both humans and livestock. Last Thursday a multi-sectoral team that included delegates from the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS), the World Food Programme (WFP), Cabinet Secretariat and the Directorate of Emergency Management in the PM’s Office concluded a fact-finding mission to assess the damage caused by the floods. Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana, the Permanent Secretary at Cabinet Secretariat and Gabriel Kangowa, the Acting Deputy Director in the Directorate of Emergency Management, were part of the team that flew to the affected settlements in Kabbe and Linyanti constituencies. The Regional Emergency Management Unit (REMU) comprising of people from the various departments and government ministries, with the sole mandate to handle disasters at regional level, had a series of meetings to ensure the affected communities receive aid.