Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN; Flooding in January 2010
JOHANNESBURG, 1 April 2011 (IRIN) - Namibia has declared a state of emergency in response to widescale flooding in the north that has claimed 62 lives since January 2011.
"The most severe flooding is occurring in the regions of Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshikoto, which form the Cuvelai Basin," said a situation report by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator on 30 March 2011.
The Cuvelai Basin, in northern Namibia, is one of the country's most densely populated regions, as well as one of its poorest.
"However, surrounding areas are also being affected, specifically Caprivi and Kavango. An estimated 62 people have died. In Oshakati town, in Oshana region, an estimated 5,000 people are already being housed in relocation sites, and this number is increasing," the report noted.
"Following weeks of heavy rain, water levels in northern Namibia are already 30cm to 40cm higher than they were in 2009, when a flood emergency was also declared."
The Namibia Meteorological Service has forecast more rain for the central and northern parts of the country next week, and the situation is expected to be compounded by "a new flood wave" approaching the Cuvelai Basin, beginning on 1 April.
The government has set aside about US$4.4 million for its response to the floods, but allocation of the funds has not yet been decided.
The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has sourced US$328,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the local Red Cross in providing "assistance to 2,000 families in the northern regions of Caprivi, Kavango, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana, as well as in the southern region of Karas, which was affected by flooding earlier in the season," the report said.
Preliminary assessments showed that the priority requirements were food, shelter, transport and education. Over 100,000 learners in 324 schools were affected by flooding, of which 163 were closed, and 22 health clinics were either submerged or completely surrounded by water.
In the past few months many countries in the region have been afflicted by flooding. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted in its Southern Africa flood and cyclone update on 30 March 2011 that according to media reports, the Cunene provincial government, in southern Angola, was airlifting medical supplies to areas cut off by floodwater.
"The government has also started building dykes and hydraulic systems around Ondjiva [capital of Cunene Province] to ensure that the flooding that has affected the city for three successive rainfall seasons does not recur," the OCHA update said.
Flooding in Angola has caused the deaths of 113 people in 2011, displaced about 35,000 people and destroyed nearly 5,000 homes, OCHA said.
Recent floods in South Africa killed 91 people, and 34 died in Madagascar, mainly in the flooding caused by Cyclone Bingiza, which struck the Indian Ocean island on 14 February 2011.
In contrast, parts of Zimbabwe have suffered an unseasonal dry spell that is expected to have a severe impact on the food insecure country's main harvest, which starts in April.