Life After the Floods

WHEN the floods washed away her home last month, Milinga Misika (77) did not know what to do and where she would stay for the night.

Leaving behind her few belongings, Misika and other residents in the Kabbe constituency of the Zambezi region sought refuge at a shelter on high ground.

The shelter, which is run by the government with the help of the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS), accommodates about 13 000 farmers who lost their crops and homes to the floods.

The residents were provided with purified water, blankets, cooking utensils and mosquito nets for a period of four months, after which 700 families returned to their flood-prone villages.

Sitting in the shade with her grandchildren, Misika leans on a wooden beam that supports her hut, and explains how they escaped the floods.

“As a mother and a grandmother, I was very worried about how my family would survive because we don’t have any cattle,” she said.

Without an income and any other means of survival, many farmers were caught in a vicious cycle of poverty brought by the floods and then the drought.

But Misika has a reason to smile because her family is one of 330 whose livelihoods were restored through the Sininga vegetable project initiated by the Namibia Red Cross Society together with the Zambezi River Basin Project.

Through this project, the organisers seek to improve food security and reduce crop losses by starting backyard vegetable gardens at villages in the Lisikili Community.

Zambezi region NRCS disaster risk reduction officer Mayamba Valks said communities are supported with vegetable and rice production training as well as community mobilisation to ensure that their harvests are successful.

“They are also provided with gardening equipment such as wheelbarrows, digging forks, rakes, watering cans, spray cans, vegetable seeds, manure transportation and water irrigation systems,” Valks said.

Others like Webby Wabei (47), who also struggled to make a living after the floods, benefited from the project. The unemployed father of two said his family had nothing when the floods subsided.

“My family and I lost all our crops. And because I am unemployed, I could not afford to buy food or send my children to school,” he said.

Through the project, Wabei now has an income and food for his family. The farmer now runs a vegetable garden. He said he earns at least N$3 000 per month from selling the vegetables.

Although the project is successful in helping flood victims to afford food, some villagers find it challenging.

Frank Ilishebo (41), who runs a rice production garden and lives five kilometres from the river bank, says he cannot access water since he does not have pipes.

“The only problem I have is water. My rice cannot grow very well because I’m not watering it,” he says.

Ilishebo also says although his crops survive through soil moisture, he still needs to water them.

However, he cannot afford the pipes to draw water from the river or the water tanks.

Doris Kahimbi (57) says she spends at least six hours watering her garden using the traditional water bucket method as she also cannot afford to buy pipes.

“I have to fetch water from the river using buckets to water my vegetables,” she said, adding that she manages her garden alone.

Source : The Namibian