Zambezi floods disrupt govt services

Windhoek-The annual floods in the Zambezi Region have left many residents in the flood-prone areas of Kabbe stranded and unable to access social services provided by the government.

The situation is aggravated by thousands of villagers refusing to move to higher ground, despite several warnings from the region's political leadership.

The residents say they will miss out on seasonal delicacies that come with fresh-water fishing should they leave their flooded villagers to move to higher ground.

Overall, villagers are hard to convince to relocate because during floods, which occur annually in the area, there is a lot of food such as fish, vegetables including water lilies, which is a staple in Zambezi, and fruits such as mangoes and guavas.

In an interview with New Era, Kabbe South Constituency Councillor John Likando said residents are now totally cut off from government services such as monthly social grants for the elderly and orphans and vulnerable people, drought relief food, clinics, schools and home affairs and immigration for national documents, among other services.

Roads to villages are submerged in water and people have resorted to using banana boats and dugout canoes for movement, which has proved to be risky as they expose themselves to attacks by crocodiles, snakes and hippos.

Likando noted that the Zambezi River continues to rise rapidly, as the region has of late received good rains nearly on a daily basis.

"The heavy rainfall made it inaccessible for people to reach most areas, especially to payout points for social grants for elderly citizens and orphans and vulnerable children, and for drought relief food plus other services offered by the government," Likando revealed.

He said the elderly and orphans and vulnerable people residing in more than 10 villages did not receive their social grants for January.

Further, he fears that the dilemma will continue for February since the floodwater is not subsiding.

Likando suggested that, if possible, service providers pay the needy people in advance before water levels rise further.

"They are totally stranded now - some of them used the money for December to prepare children to go to school and also prepare their fields," he noted.

He said the movement of vehicles to both Kabbe South and North and partly Katima Rural is restricted, adding that many government capital projects have been put on hold due to floods in Kabbe.

"This situation is known, that's why we always say Namibia is a land of contrasts. The budget cycle of the country does not really do us well either. Right now we are talking about seven to eight capital projects that have been put on hold. Contractors cannot manoeuvre to take building materials through because the area is covered by water."

Projects affected include clinics, classrooms and water facilities at Itomba, Muzii,

Mbalasinte, Impalila, Mpukano, Nakundwe and Nsundwa.

He noted that contractors only did the work halfway due to the floods, adding that he fears the projects will remain unfinished as money will be returned to Treasury at the end of this financial year.

"This money is normally given back to Treasury in April. We need to consider that this area be given special provision that either projects start earlier or the money be set aside until projects are completed," he suggested.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia