Flood Victims Resist Relocation

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By Reagan Malumo

KATIMA MULILO

Government’s plans to permanently relocate flood victims from flood-prone areas in the Caprivi region could be torpedoed by massive resistance from the flood victims especially those residing in the worst-hit eastern part of Kabbe constituency.

This became evident during a recent tour of the swamped eastern parts of the region by Caprivi Regional Governor, Leonard Mwilima, over the weekend to assess flood victims’ living conditions and food distribution to those areas.

Accompanied by the councillor of the Kabbe constituency, Peter Mwala, and the Masubiya Tribal Chief, Kisco Liswani 111, Mwilima was flown by helicopter to areas such as Schuckmannsburg, Namiyundu, Ikaba, Mbalasinte and Kasika where he held meetings with flood victims and traditional leaders.

Mwilima used the meetings to reaffirm the Government’s decision to permanently relocate flood victims to higher ground with the intention to minimise annual costs incurred by the Government when relocating and feeding flood victims.

He emphasised that the back and forth migration process has, throughout the past years, cost the Government a fortune and disrupted learners’ education in the affected areas.

He made the reassurance that the Government intends to put up permanent structures such as hostels and schools at places on higher ground for their children.

Meanwhile, despite Mwilima’s assurance that even though they will still be able to go back to their fields or fish at their former villages, the news met stiff resistance by villagers.

They argued that these areas are their only source of existence. Throughout centuries, they and their ancestors have lived in the areas and conducted fishing there.

Senior Headman for Schuckmannsburg and Namiyundu, Munihango Benson Mayumbelo felt permanent relocation would alienate them from their land and water. He fears that the new places might not be enough to accommodate everyone or render enough land to farm as well as water to drink.

Meanwhile, Chief Liswani 111 whose jurisdiction covers these areas supported their stance stressing that relocation is only necessary for schools and hostels but not the communities.

He said his authority would only accept the construction of hostels at areas such as Schuckmannsburg and other places, which are not always covered by floods.

He said these areas have been vital traditional dwellings for his communities for centuries. The flood-prone area also gives his people access to water and relish traditionally known as isoto, which is favourite food for the majority of the Masubiya people living in those areas.

Liswani III called on the Government to support and speed up the establishment of the biofuel plant project – the jatropha curcas project – that would create almost 20??????’??

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