AFRICA/NAMIBIA - Alert in the region of Caprivi for the breaking banks of the Zambezi River

Monday, 31 January 2011

Widhoec (Agenzia Fides) – More than 1,000 people have been “relocated permanently” from the 32 villages at risk of flooding in Caprivi, the most northerly province of Namibia, preparing to meet a Zambezi River swollen to near-record size for this time of year by torrential rains. Local media reported that 1,021 villagers from the Kabbe constituency, a low-lying district along the Zambezi River in eastern Caprivi - had been taken to the Katima Mulilo Rural constituency.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) water levels over the next week are expected to reach critical levels, between 3.5 and 4 metres. “Considering the present flows upstream [in Angola and Zambia], Katima Mulilo will likely reach at least 6m, and possibly higher levels, if upstream flows continue rising as a result of more rains occurring in the catchment,” OCHA said. In 2004, when the region experienced its worst flooding since 1958, the river passed the 7m level at Katima Mulilo and the subsequent flooding affected 50,000 people.
The Zambezi River, the continent's fourth largest, rises in Zambia and flows through Angola, along the borders of Namibia and Botswana, and into Zambia again, then along the Zimbabwean border and through Mozambique, where it reaches the Indian Ocean about 150km north of the port city of Beira.
According to the Namibian Red Cross Society, in Schuckmansburg, about 50km west of Katima Mulilo, Muliwa Island and villages in the northern parts of Caprivi are now completely flooded. All the surrounding villages and schools urgently need to be relocated. In the meantime, a camp to accommodate more than 4,500 people has been created. (AP) (31/1/2011 Agenzia Fides)