Thousands of villagers in the flood-prone Kabbe Constituencies in the Zambezi Region who risk being submerged refuse to relocate, despite repeated warnings to pack their belongings and evacuate to higher ground as the water level is rising.
Since last month villagers have being advised to evacuate to higher ground for their own safety, as there is a strong possibility of flooding, as the water level has continued to rise over the past few weeks and could endanger their lives.
The water level of the river has reached nearly five metres, compared to recent weeks when it was at around two metres, when the water was moving slowly. On Wednesday the river stood at 4.7 metres.
Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu, who assessed the situation, confirmed that there has been a rapid increase in the water level of the Zambezi and warned on Tuesday of the possibility of serious floods should heavy rains keep falling in the catchment areas of the Zambezi River.
“These people are reluctant to move to higher ground until they are under water. We’re once again appealing to them to move, including their livestock, to higher ground before they get submerged,” he advised.
Sampufu said villages in the epicentre of the flood zone, such as Schuckmannsburg, Namiyundu, Nankuntwe, Muzii, Mpukano, Masiliki, Ivilivinzi, Lisikili, Imukusi and Nfoma, have already been cut off completely and no vehicle can access these areas. They are now only accessible by boat.
He warned that government services, such as schools, clinics and the drought relief food programme would be interrupted if proper arrangements are not made in advance.
Regarding schools, he said, learners could still access schools, but they could be cut off too in the next two weeks or so if rain continues pouring down in northeastern Angola, northwestern Zambia and southern DRC – all catchment areas of the Zambezi River.
However, Sampofu revealed that the Zambezi Regional Disaster Risk Management team stands ready to evacuate villagers should the situation get out of hand.
He said the regional council has about six speedboats, in addition to a ferry, named the Richard Kapelwa Kabajani. Further, he said council has enough tents in case of emergency to provide shelter and temporary schools.
Serious floods were observed in March 2014 when close to 5 000 villagers in both Kabbe constituencies were evacuated to relocation camps on higher ground. As roads become more difficult to navigate, 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 residents and their belongings.