New Era (Windhoek)

10 April 2013

Namibia: Thousands Receive Flood Relief in Caprivi

Windhoek — The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has donated over N$2.7 million to support the Namibia Red Cross Society to deliver immediate assistance to 11 000 flood victims in the Caprivi Region.

A total of 2 500 families received flood assistance, translating into 11 000 beneficiaries. The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund is a source of un-earmarked money created by the international federation to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent emergency response.

Heavy rains and rising river levels in the Zambezi River catchment area caused extensive flooding in the Caprivi Region, inundating homes, infrastructure and crop fields.

According to a joint rapid assessment conducted by the government-led regional disaster risk management technical team (of which the Red Cross and Red Crescent is a part) in February, a total of 4 000 families (17 600 people), including 4 527 school children, were identified to be at risk of flooding if the flooding continued. As of March 11, 2013, up to 2 500 families (11 000 people) were identified as most vulnerable in the flood plains of the Caprivi Region and were evacuated to camps supported by the government.

The joint assessment team identified sanitation, the increased risk of water-borne diseases and shelter as some of the most immediate challenges. "The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund operation intends to respond to the immediate needs of the 2 500 families living in the camps, through the provision of water and sanitation, hygiene promotion, disease surveillance, emergency shelter materials and non-food items," the Namibia Red Cross Society states in a media release.

The operation is expected to be implemented over a period of four months, and is expected to be complete by July 30. A final report will be made available three months after the end of the operation at the end of October. However, according to the Namibia Red Cross Society, with the continued heavy rains in the region, there still may be a need for the operation to be extended in scope and timeframe. Early January 2013 saw the levels of the Zambezi River rise significantly as a result of increased rainfall in the Zambezi river catchment area.

The river's levels reached 6.31m on March 11, as compared to 4.57m at the same time in 2012 and the normal or average level of 4.21m. It was the highest level reached by the Zambezi River on record this time of the year, leading to flooding which caused damage to homes, roads, dams, crop fields and livestock and destroying many livelihoods. The majority of homes in the flood plains have been inundated. Many roads have been destroyed and entire communities cut off, making it difficult for them to access essential services such as schools and clinics. Many schools and clinics had to be closed.

Many families are homeless after their houses were destroyed and damaged, with schooling disrupted, while schools are being used as temporary evacuation centres, in addition to the evacuation camps set up by the government. The Namibia Red Cross Society with the support of the zone office of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent applied for assistance from Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, which was received on March 16.

Although the water levels are residing they are still comparatively high. The situation is also expected to worsen following reports of another flood wave developing in the upper Zambezi catchment area of Chavuma and this is expected to increase water levels substantially in the coming days.

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