20 February 2013

Namibia: Caprivi Villagers Await Evacuation

Windhoek — The Caprivi Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee (CRDRM) says it is unable to evacuate villagers affected by floods in the Kabbe Constituency following the rapid rise of the Zambezi River, because the relocation camps have not yet been de-bushed.

Kabbe Constituency Councillor, Raphael Mbala, who is also the chairperson of CRDRM told New Era the committee is in talks with the Roads Authority (RA) to help de-bush the areas where people will be relocated as a matter of urgency since some villages have already been flooded.

"Bushes have grown thick, because last year there were no relocations since the floods came late. The RA has agreed to de-bush and today (Monday) we will show them where to de-bush," Mbala explained.

The Zambezi River is rising so fast that it stood at 6.03m yesterday, while on Sunday the water level stood at 6.0m. Villages mostly affected and which are in need of urgent relocation include Namiyundu, Nankuntwe, Schuckmannsburg, Muzii and Mpukano.

The councillor noted that villages such as Masikili and Ivilibinzi would also be affected soon, because the floodwaters are approaching them fast. "As soon as we finish clearing the camps, we will start evacuating the affected villagers. On Wednesday I will go to the affected areas to inform people as to where they will be relocated," he explained.

Caprivi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu described the risk of flooding as "serious". "The villages are already underwater. The crops are also submerged. We will continue providing food relief to our people because their fields have been destroyed by floods," Sampofu said.

Seasonal flooding has left thousands of residents including school-going children cut off from all the main roads. "Teachers are teaching although some learners are already staying in tents on the school grounds, while others come from home using dugout canoes to cross the high water," Sampofu told New Era this week.

In addition, Sampofu said the region is ready for evacuations. "The regional council has about four boats. The ferry Kapelwa Kabajani is also on standby to evacuate the affected communities. We also have enough tents. We will only inform the Prime Minister's Office to assist with ordering food from the local millers. Everything is ready including health and sanitation facilities," he said.

Most villagers have started harvesting their crops prematurely fearing that they would lose everything. Floodwaters are coming from the upper Zambezi, which is in Angola and in neighbouring Zambia. Villages such as Kalimbeza and Lisikili have also started to harvest their maize fields prematurely.

So far no deaths or injuries have been reported, except a man who last week Thursday narrowly escaped death after a hippo attacked him while on a fishing expedition. It is reported that the man from Kasika, a village in the Kabbe Constituency was fishing when a hippo attacked him injuring him seriously in the process.

"Luckily he didn't die. Villagers managed to get an ambulance from Botswana and took him to the Katima Mulilo State Hospital for treatment. He was later transferred to Windhoek," Mbala said.

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