Floods jeopardize learning in Zambezi

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-Despite the dangers posed by serious floods in the Zambezi Region, school-going children and their teachers are still in limbo as to whether they will be relocated to higher ground or not.

Teachers and learners alike are currently using dugout canoes to cross streams to and from school, which can be very dangerous.

The Zambezi River was flowing at 6.44m last week Tuesday compared to 5.6m the same time last year.

The Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu confirmed the floods, saying schools in Kabbe South Constituency are all surrounded by floodwater. Some schools are in the epicentre of the flood zone, such as at Schuckmannsburg, Namiyundu, Nankuntwe, Muzii, Mpukano, Masiliki, Ivilivinzi, Lisikili, Imukusi and Nfoma.

Surprisingly these schools are all still operational as the Zambezi education regional directorate has not given any directive to schools regarding the floods.
Asked for comment, Sampofu said he had engaged the Zambezi chief regional officer, Regina Ndopu-Lubinda, to consult the education directorate on the situation of the many affected schools.

“The water is just too much. The Zambezi River is overflowing. The schools are not yet closed. The education directorate has to tell us whether they want to close the schools earlier and start early May. Or they can tell us if they want to relocate, then we will relocate the schools. So we are still waiting to hear from them,” he said.

On her part Ndopu-Lubinda said she had a meeting with the education directorate and was told they are still busy with assessments of the affected schools. She said the delay in finalising the assessment is because the schools are far apart and the areas are under water. She added that they would know whether to relocate the schools by Friday.

The governor said that besides schools, other government services such as clinics are also cut off from the main routes, making them inaccessible for villagers.
No death from drowning has been reported.

“The children might not be able to paddle the canoes because the water is very fast and strong. The water is dangerous because it also comes with snakes, crocodiles and hippos. We are really urging parents to escort their children to school. Those who are moving must not cross deep valleys because they can drown,” he cautioned.

Further, he said villagers in the flood-prone areas still refuse to relocate to higher grounds, despite several calls from the political leadership in the region.

However, he noted most have heeded calls to move their livestock to higher ground.
Asked on the humanitarian aid, he noted the ferry Kabanjani and banana boats as well as tents are available for any eventuality.

Regarding food, he said the regional council will consult the Office of the Prime Minister should the need arise.

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