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Namibia on floods alert

New Era
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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK - Hydrologists have made an urgent call to flood contingency forces to be on standby as flooding is imminent in most flood-prone areas of the country.

"The urgent advice is that organisations with contingency plans should get into gear to activate them at short notice if the present weather conditions continue and/or if there is news of a high flood coming from the north," hydrologist in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Guido Van Langenhove, said on Saturday.

Most parts of Namibia have been inundated with heavy rains in the past few weeks. The country's meteorological services forecasts could not indicate if that trend will continue, as the system was out of order, forecaster Victor Kaurimuje said.

According to Van Langenhove, in northern Namibia, water levels in the Cuvelai continue to rise. The situation is further worsened by continuous heavy rains received in Ondjiva in the Cunene area of Angola.

"In Namibia, we are now in a situation similar to 2008. Heavy local rains are already causing flooding with more floodwaters possibly building up from the north," said the hydrologist.

In the north-east of the country, the Zambezi River continues its steady rise at Katima Mulilo while in the Kavango Region, a second flood wave arrived in the Kavango River during the weekend.

Water levels have increased by more than 0.50 m in the last few days, says Van Langenhove.

In the south, several floods have been reported at Seeheim in the Lower Fish River. The catchment area of the Hardap Dam has in the past days received heavy rains, prompting NamWater to open the floodgates as the water levels in the dam started to rise above the set level of not more than 70 percent full.

NamWater spokesperson, Johannes Shigwedha told New Era yesterday that on Saturday water inflow into the dam was at 950 cubic metres per second, thus NamWater feared the dam would exceed the agreed capacity of 70 percent.

On Saturday at 16h00, NamWater started releasing between 250 and 300 cubic metres per second. By yesterday morning, the dam was still over 70 percent full but the water release had been reduced to 125 cubic metres per second, and was to be increased to 250 cubic metres per second by midday.

Governor of the Hardap Region, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, confirmed the dam was at 71 percent full as of yesterday afternoon.

She said her region has since last Tuesday received heavy rains and the rivers in the region are alive and flowing.

Shigwedha said a monitoring system is active and will remain in place until the end of the rainy season.

Acting Director from the Directorate Emergency Management in the office of the Prime Minister Gabriel Kangowa assured that all measures were in place in all flood-prone regions.

He added that land to relocate people has been identified and tents and blankets are also in stock for families that might be displaced.