The Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu has revealed that they will start next week with the evacuation of hundreds of learners, along with their teachers, to higher grounds following severe floods in Kabbe.
The floods are due to heavy rains in north-eastern Angola, north-western Zambia and southern DRC – which are all catchment areas for the Zambezi River.
The evacuation typically starts with learners, teachers and teaching materials, followed by other community members and their belongings.
Since January, the Zambezi Regional Disaster Risk Management (ZRDRM) has been issuing flood alerts for villagers to move themselves and their livestock to higher grounds for their own safety before the situation gets out of hand, but villagers have apparently been hesitant.
Sampofu told New Era yesterday in an interview that the ZRDRM assessed the water situation over the weekend and realised that about 11 schools in the epicentre of the flood zone are totally cut off, making it difficult, if not impossible, for learners and teachers to reach their schools.
These schools are in villages such as Schuckmannsburg, Namiyundu, Nankuntwe, Muzii, Mpukano, Masiliki, Iivilivinzi, Lisikili, Imukusi and Nfoma, which have already been cut off completely and no vehicle can access these areas.
Since schools are on a mid-break, Sampofu noted they would start with the relocation once schools resume next week Tuesday.
The only way villagers can access such areas is by using dugout canoes, which have in the past proven dangerous as crocodiles, snakes and rhinos attack them.
The Zambezi River on Tuesday stood at 5.16 metres compared to 2.75 metres the same time last year.
“By next week we are ready to start relocating these schools to higher ground. The team is ready to evacuate. The honorable chairperson (of the ZRDRM), Peter Mwala, went to Zambia last week at Mwandi in Zambia to ask for permission to use trucks through Zambia via Siseke and then Katima Mulilo. The discussions were fruitful, so we will relocate,” he said.
Tents that will serve as temporary schools will be set up at Kabbe and Lusese settlements near Katima Mulilo before teaching and learning materials can be shifted there.
For villagers who will remain behind, Sampofu had this to say: “Ever since January we have been appealing to them to move with their cattle to higher grounds. It is worse now. But there is still a chance for villagers to move their cattle to higher grounds.”
However, Sampofu revealed that the ZRDRM stands ready to evacuate villagers should the situation get out of hand.
He said the regional council has several speedboats in addition to the ferry Kapelwa Kabajani. Further, he said, the council has enough tents in case of emergency to provide shelter and for temporary schools.