12 March 2013

Namibia: Floods Do Bring Plenty of Fish

Kalimbeza — Despite floods in Caprivi causing damage to property and crops, there is an overwhelming sense of relief and optimism.

The sense of optimism stems from the fact that floods should not only be seen in a negative way because they bring with them plenty of fish and other edible seasonal delicacies.

Kalimbeza village in the flood-prone area of the Kabbe Constituency is one of the largest villages in Caprivi along the Zambezi River near Zambia.

Since January, Kalimbeza has experienced severe floods negatively affecting many villagers, who are however grateful for the bountiful fish brought by the floodwaters.

When the great Zambezi River broke its banks the floodwaters also damaged the Kalimbeza rice project, among other crop fields.

Local crop farmer Morris Lizumo (30) said: "Floodwaters surround my house. One part of my crop field is totally destroyed. It also brought a lot of dangerous snakes and we are suffering because we spend a lot of our time killing snakes."

Asked why he doesn't relocate permanently, he explained that it is difficult to leave one's ancestral land permanently as his "elders also refused to do so".

Lizumo like other villagers however sees some good in the floods as they bring with them a source of food and income in the form of tilapia fingerlings and other fish that villagers catch in the floodwaters using mosquito nets and buckets. The tilapia fingerlings are dried in heaps, packed in sacks and sold to hordes of fish traders who travel to Caprivi from far-flung areas.

'In general the floods bring fish. We catch and sell them to make a living to support our families," enthuses an optimistic Lizumo.

Women living in the area have also resorted to catching tilapia fingerlings that also earn them an income, albeit on a seasonal basis.

Lisabel Siboleka (25) confirmed she makes a living out of tilapia fingerlings locally called 'minolale' "Now is the season and they are plentiful. We use nets to catch them," says Siboleka.

Women who catch 'minolale' sell a 50kg bag of sun-dried tilapia fingerlings for N$300 and since these fish are plentiful competition is very stiff. Sometimes because of market forces of demand and supply they are forced to sell a 50kg bag for N$100.

"Even if these fish come once a year, it helps since we can use it as relish and also sell at the Katima Mulilo open market to make some extra money," Siboleka told New Era.

Erica Namangolwa (22) says they catch fingerlings from the floodwaters flowing under the bridges near the rice project. "Business is good. We make some money for ourselves since we are unemployed," she said.

Since the fish is seasonal and is available for up to three months, Namangolwa proudly said they can easily make between N$7 000 and N$10 000 in three months before the floodwaters recede. "That is why we say the floods have negatively affected our lives but they also bring blessings. Some big vendors come to us and order in large quantities. The only disadvantage we face is that if it rains the fish get wet and are spoiled," she said.

Memory Likumbi (17) from Kalimbeza village says she catches the fish to sell and for own consumption. "It will also help me pay my school fees since I am in Grade 9 at Izize Combined School," she says.

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