New Era (Windhoek)

11 March 2013

Namibia: Caprivi Flood Rescue Begins

Kabbe — Close to 1 000 villagers displaced by floods in the Kabbe Constituency in the Caprivi Region were evacuated to a safer area over the weekend. It is overall expected that about 5 000 people displaced by floods will be relocated in the next weeks to various relocation camps in the same constituency.

The ferry christened 'Kapelwa Kabajani', four banana boats and three speedboats were hard at work evacuating flood victims from Nankuntwe to Kabbe Camp B, some 120 kilometres away.

As all roads are difficult to access since floods began in mid-February, evacuation teams could only ferry villagers up to Mwandi border post in neighbouring Zambia from where Namibian government trucks transported them through Zambia to the Wenela border post to their relocation camps.

Teams from the Caprivi Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee (CRDRMC) and different ministries such as Defence, Works and Transport, Education, Health and Social Services, Gender Equality and Child Welfare, and Agriculture, Water and Forestry participated in the relocation operation. The evacuation first started with teachers, learners and teaching materials followed by other community members and their belongings.

Since the end of January the Zambezi River has been rising rapidly, leaving many villagers cut off from main roads and essential services such as schools, hospitals, pay-points for the elderly to collect their social grants, and shops.

Villages whose inhabitants will be evacuated because they are in the epicentre of the flood zone are Schuckmannsburg, Namiyundu, Nankuntwe, Muzii, Mpukano, Masiliki, Ivilivinzi, Lisikili, Imukusi and Nfoma. On Saturday the level of the Zambezi River stood at 6.29 metres.

Kabbe Constituency Councillor, Raphael Mbala, who is the chairperson of the CRDRMC, over the weekend said villages such as Itomba, Nakabolelwa and Nsundwa would be relocated if the water level reaches 7.8 - 8 metres. Mostly affected are schools which learners can no longer access even by using dugout canoes.

In an attempt to ensure that their children do not miss out on classes, parents with the assistance of teachers have arranged and set up 'home services' on the school grounds to minimise the danger of learners being exposed to the flooding when travelling to and from school.

Floods are also the source of waterborne diseases and other dangers besides the risk of drowning. On Friday morning a Grade 9 learner at Nankuntwe Combined School was bitten by a snake while paddling in a canoe to his homestead to pick up some of his belongings. Joseph Mubika was with three other learners in a canoe when a green snake slithered into the canoe and bit him on the ankle.

"The incident happened so fast. I just saw a snake slide into the canoe and bite me. And then it jumped back into the water," Mubika explained while waiting for a rescue boat to rush him to the nearest clinic at Schuckmannsburg some 10 kilometres away. The incident occurred at around 11h00 but by 15h30, the learner had not yet received any medical attention, but he eventually was treated at the clinic at around 16h30.

The evacuation process, which kicked off on Friday morning started at Nankuntwe , a village that always bears the brunt of the first floods because of its low-lying topography. After Nankuntwe, the evacuation programme will continue at Mpukano and Muzii will follow.

Thus far no serious injuries or death have been reported except for the Grade 9 learner being bitten by a snake at Nankuntwe Combined School.

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