20 March 2009

Zambia: Floods Devastate 15 Districts, Leave Many Homeless

FIFTEEN districts countrywide are severely affected by this year's floods with Shang'ombo in Western Province being the most hit, after water displaced 45 households.

Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Vice-President, Davies Sampa, said in Lusaka yesterday that the floods had caused damage to the roads, bridges, crops and several other installations in the affected districts.

Apart from Shang'ombo, which has been cut off from the rest of the country, other districts include Lukulu, Kalabo and Kaoma all in Western Province, while in North-Western Province, the districts are Mwinilunga, Zambezi, Chavuma, Kabompo, Solwezi, and Mufumbwe.

Others are Kabwe and Serenje in Central Province, Mazabuka in Southern Province, Lusaka in Lusaka Province and Mungwi in Northern Province.

Mr Sampa, who was giving an update on the national flood situation, however, said the Government had already put in place measures to address the plight of the affected communities.

In the case of Mwinilunga, Zambezi, Chavuma, Kabompo, Lukulu, Kalabo, Kaoma, Solwezi, Mufumbwe and Mungwi, he said, the Zambia Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZVAC) would leave over the weekend to carry out rapid assessments.

"It is the findings of these assessment missions that will ascertain the extent of the damage and the interventions required. But in the framework of preparedness, some districts like Zambezi, Chavuma and Kalabo have had relief food pre-positioned prior to the onset of the rain," he said

On Shan'gombo District, he said, so far three schools - Mutomena, Mambolomoka basic and Lupuka primary had been closed due to floods.

Mr Sampa said the district had been completely cut off from the rest of the country while the stretch of the road connecting Shan'gombo to Sesheke had three wash-away points.

He said the assessment carried out had established that 45 households had been displaced and were currently in two camps of 34 and 11 families.

On intervention measures, he said, Zambia Air Force had been engaged to airlift tents, blankets, mealie-meal and other food stuff to help address the plight of displaced families.

He also said operation to reconnect Shang'ombo to the rest of the country through Sesheke-Sitoti-Shang'ombo route was in progress by fixing two bailey bridges at Mboiwa One and Mboiwa Two

Mr Sampa appealed to all affected families to exercise patience and calmness as the Government addresses their plight.

Meanwhile, more houses in Kitwe's Ipusukilo Township have continued to submerge on the banks of the Kafue River following the bursting of the river banks due to the incessant rain that the city has been receiving in the last three days.

Some owners of the collapsed houses said they were ready to move to Kawama area where the Kitwe City Council serviced land for the affected to be resettled.

A Times team that went to Ipusukilo to check on the situation in the area found that most houses on the banks of the river were submerged in water, while others had completely collapsed.

A team of KCC officials, which included public relations officer, Dorothy Sampa, was found in the area, inspecting the collapsed and submerged houses on the river banks.

Mrs Sampa said the number of collapsed and submerged houses had continued to rise because of the heavy rain in the city.

She said some victims were seeking shelter from friends and relatives in other townships.

One victim, Dyness Zulu, said the residents in the area were now living in fear because hippos and crocodiles were coming near their houses.

MrsZulu said she was ready to move to Kawama where the council had reserved land for the people who were living on the banks of the river.

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