News and Information

Caprivi flood victims head home
July 29, 2004

THE arduous trek home has begun for nearly 3 000 displaced victims of the Caprivi floods who were relocated to resettlement camps.

The return process began last week and is now said to be in full swing from all four resettlement camps at Lusese, Schuckmannsburg and Impalila.

In recent weeks, people living in the camps have become restless and eager to return home to plough, gather water lilies and go back to school.

Floodwaters in the eastern plains have receded drastically in recent weeks, with the Zambezi River, as measured at Katima Mulilo, hovering around the 1,2-metre mark on Monday.

More than 100 people, including the Police and Namibia Defence Force soldiers, have been roped in to see people home safely.

But a lack of transport remains the main stumbling block to speeding up the process.

The head of the Emergency Communication Centre at Katima Mulilo, Frederick Simasiku, told The Namibian that it could take until the end of next month before everyone had returned home.

As a result, many people have left the camps under their own steam over the past weeks, eager to begin ploughing and to assess the damage to their properties.

Since last Wednesday, the flood task teams have only had the use of one boat to transport the about 600 people who were settled at Impalila Island.

Many of the about 800 people stationed at Schuckmannsburg have opted to travel back to their villages by traditional mokoro (dugout canoe), instead of waiting their turn to be transported with the one boat operating from the area.

Two Government trucks began ferrying people from the most densely populated camp at Lusese a week ago to Sesheke and Mwandi on the border with Zambia from where two boats obtained from Kalizo Lodge and the Police are being used to take them home.

Most of those resettled at the two camps at Lusese are from Ivilivinzi, Nankuntwe, Itomba, Ikava and Muzii.

With the water truck that has been supplying the camp with water from Katima Mulilo having broken down this week, life there has become tougher with a tighter supply of water.

According to Simasiku, the cold weather had also made tent life uncomfortable and many children were going down with flu.

At last count over a week ago, more than 1 500 people were still living at the two Lusese camps.

Women, teachers and children are being transported first so that schools can re-open as soon as possible.

Simasiku said that many people were worried that they had missed out on a large part of their curriculum while away from home.

Although many buildings and other structures in the villages have reportedly dried out, large lakes still surround many areas.

Senior water technician Vincent Simana said yesterday that it was now possible to reach Nankuntwe, Malindi, Schuckmansburg and Namiyundu by road.

However, he said floodwaters still surrounded Muzii and travel by road was still not possible.

Simasiku said the Emergency Unit hoped that a helicopter currently undergoing a service in Windhoek would be able to begin airlifting people and food soon.

He said the unit had started stocking warehouses at several villages with food to continue supplying people until next month.

More than 9 000 people had to be resettled in camps when the floodwaters drove them from their homes in early April after the Zambezi River reached its peak at 7,05 metres.

Source: The Namibian News Paper

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