Zambezi issues flood alert

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There are indications that the annual flooding of the Zambezi River could again submerge villages in Kabbe South this year.

Image: There are indications that the annual flooding of the Zambezi River could again submerge villages in Kabbe South this year. 

Windhoek

Thousands of villagers in the flood-prone Kabbe Constituency in the Zambezi Region are being advised to prepare themselves and their belongings for possible evacuation to higher ground as the water level is rising.

Villagers are being advised to evacuate to higher ground for their own safety, as there is a strong possibility of flooding if the water level continues to rise over the next two weeks.

Kabbe South Constituency Councillor John Likando, who assessed the water situation over the weekend, warned yesterday of the possibility of serious floods should heavy rains keep falling in the catchment areas of the Zambezi River.

Likando confirmed that the Zambezi is rising, but said the water is moving slowly. He said the water is running in streams leading to villages in the epicentre of the flood zone, such as Schuckmannsburg, Namiyundu, Nankuntwe, Muzii, Mpukano, Masiliki, Ivilivinzi, Lisikili, Imukusi and Nfoma.

Currently the level of the Zambezi stands at 1.73 metre, compared to 1.88 metre recorded over the corresponding period last year. By Thursday, it stood at 1.54 metre compared to 1.76 metre at this time last year.

He warned that if rain continues pouring down in northeastern Angola, northwestern Zambia and southern DRC – which are all catchment areas for the Zambezi – the residents of Kabbe could expect heavy floods in the coming two weeks.

He also warned that government services, such as schools, clinics and the drought relief food programme would be hampered if proper arrangements are not made well in advance. “Within the next two weeks we could be talking of different things. The roads could be affected.

“For grazing it is still fine, but as the water rises people should be vigilant” and not get caught in dangrous situations, he warned.
On the crop situation, he said the harvest does not look promising due to the persistent drought and this has compelled offficials to continue distributing drought relief food to the worst affected communities.

“If this water moves at its current pace, people could get their food rations for next month as early as possible before the water closes the routes,” he noted.

Meanwhile, chief hydrologist in the Ministry of Agriculture Pauline Mufeti said the Zambezi River started rising suddenly in the past two weeks due to the good rains in the catchment areas.

She said a gradual increase has been observed in the flows of the Zambezi at Katima Mulilo, while the Kavango River continues to subside.

Former Kabbe North and South Councillor Raphael Mbala, a resident in the area, shared some of his observations on the ground: “I came from my village (Muzii) last night (Sunday night). The vehicles are still moving up to my village. The floods this year seem to be lower than that of last year. At this time last year, I was the last person to come from my village by car.”

Mbala said in previous years the flooding started earlier and said this year’s floods are “very late”, and have not negatively affected many villages nor displaced the inhabitants, as in years past.

“The routes that come from Schuckmannsburg up to Muzii are closed, because they are next to the river, but the schools are not yet affected as vehicles can still access them. Even livestock are still grazing,” he observed.

In March 2014, close to 5 000 villagers affected by floods in both Kabbe Constituencies were evacuated to relocation camps on higher ground within the said constituencies. As roads become difficult to access, evacuation teams normally ferry villagers up to Mwandi Border Post in Zambia, from where the authorities transport them through Zambia to the Wenela border post to relocation camps in Zambezi.

The evacuation typically starts with learners, teachers and teaching materials, followed by other community members and their belongings.

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