REPORTS of some Zambians being affected by floods in some parts of the country have become an annual feature despite warnings from the relevant authorities.
Government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and the Meteorological Department has consistently reminded settlers to find alternative dry places but to no avail.
The settlers do not however, realise the cost of relief each year they have been affected by floods.
Some have gone to an extent of demanding that Government relocates and build them houses.
Besides compelling Government to spend large sums of money to address the effects of the floods, live are lost.
For example this year, on February 16 and 18, two people were reported to have drowned because of floods while another was nursing leg injuries at Nangoma Mission Hospital.
And over 663 people were left homeless after more than 175 houses collapsed in Nangoma Constituency (Lubanze area) and Mumbwa Central.
The Meteorological Department of Zambia predicted timely that some parts of the country were likely to experience a dry spell while others a heavy downpour at a particular period.
But alerts have been ignored thus subjecting Government to spending huge sums of money on problems that could have been avoided.
It is only when disaster strikes that residents in flood prone areas realise that Government means well whenever it advises them to look for alternative places to live.
And as usual, the victims cry out to Government to come to their aid every time they are faced with floods.
Because of Government's gesture, resources which could have been allocated to other needy areas end up being diverted towards flood victims.
In Mumbwa District, following continuous heavy rains in some parts of the area, several families have been left homeless after the collapse of their houses.
Not only houses were affected, four schools namely Kabulwebulwe Basic School, Naluvui Basic School and Namunde Primary School (all in Mumbwa Central) as well as Kasalu Upper Basic School in Nangoma Constituency have indefinitely been shut owing to the floods.
Hunger is also looming in the district as most crop fields have been left submerged in water while some areas have been cut off from others as roads have become impassable.
Mumbwa District Commissioner Sunday Shamabanse said in a telephone interview on February 18, 2013 that all the seven chiefdoms in the area have been affected by the floods.
The chiefdoms are Shakumbila, Moono, Chibuluma, Mumba, Kabulwebulwe, Mulendema and Kaindu.
"We are receiving reports of collapsed houses on a daily basis involving an average of 50 houses per day.
"Some parts of the district have been experiencing rains everyday since January (2013). It's really bad, my brother," he said.
Mr Shamabanse said it was the first time since 1958 that the District was experiencing such a rainfall pattern and disasters, warning that more people were expected to be left homeless and hungry should the rains continue.
On February 15, 2013, some affected families in the two aforementioned areas breathed a sigh of relief when Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President, Harry Kalaba and DMMU staff visited them.
The victims were elated after Mr Kalaba through DMMU provided them with tents, mosquito nets and boxes of chlorine.
DMMU conducted an aerial assessment of the impact using the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) helicopters in the areas that could not be reached by road.
Addressing some of the victims at Kasalu Upper Basic School and Kabulwebulwe Basic School, Mr Kalaba described the situation in the two areas as a disaster and tragedy which was posing a danger to the people's lives,
Mr Kalaba added that it was for that reason that President Michael Sata sent him to the area to assess the situation.
In sympathising with the victims, Mr Kalaba assured the affected families that Government would be with them to protect them.
He said DMMU would do everything possible in collaboration with other stakeholders to address the situation with the urgency it deserved.
"As the PF Government, we will not come here just when there are elections,we will be with you even when there are no elections, like I have come now," Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba said it was extremely unfortunate and unimaginable that 48 years after Independence some pupils would be denied the right to learn after schools recently reopened while other people were dying, getting injured, or being left homeless because of collapsing houses.
He said Government would not sit idle and allow the status quo to continue thus instructing Mumbwa District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) Theresa Sitali to furnish DMMU with a report which would result in the immediate and urgent solution to the collapsed toilets at the schools besides advising that relevant authorities be alerted about latest reports of collapsed houses.
The initial plan was to assist the affected schools with portable lavatories as a permanent solution was being sought.
On calls for Government to provide relief food, Mr Kalaba implored the victims to allow the State to be procedural in the manner it did that, saying Government's initial concern was to assist them with accommodation then relief food would be provided at an appropriate time.
Mr Kalaba, in the company of Mr Shamabanse, Ms Sitali, among several others, also visited Lucia Chinyama, an elderly woman whose house collapsed on her. He later gave her KR100.
77-year-old Kababu Makiyi of Chief Kabulwebulwe area in Shamakumba Village and an 18-month-old baby died in separate collapsed houses.
In Mumbwa Central, 83-year-old Boniface Lyambulula said he and his grandchild were spending nights under a tree together with the household goods since Wednesday following the collapse of his house.
Mr Lyambulula sent his two other grandchildren to be with his sister in Mumbwa Boma as he remained with the other one under a tree.
"My house collapsed two days ago and all my belongings are under a tree," he lamented.
Mumbwa District senior agricultural officer Kanyanta Musonda told journalists during the tour of some flooded areas that He disclosed that as at February 15, 2013, approximately 500 hectares of land comprising various crops has completely been affected by the floods.
Mr Musonda said it was in view of the foregoing that some parts of the district had embarked on a project dubbed Alternative Crop Production, with rice being one of the targeted crops.
"We are promoting rice production in areas that are prone to floods," he said.
Mr Musonda told journalists that initially the project was targeting 1,500 lead farmers, with each one of them having 15 participating farmers whom they will train.
"In an event that there is a flood, instead of us having total crop failure we can have at least an alternative crop that will survive and will still give income and food to the families," he said.
Every rainy season, unless there is a drought, people living in drought prone areas will continue facing catastrophes such as the Mumbwa District one as long as they remain ignorant towards advice for them to relocate to much safer areas.