23 March 2011

Namibia flood updates. Pt. 6

update (04 April 2011): Weather forecasters said water levels in Namibia's north, near the border with Angola, were on the rise again.
Guido van Langenhove, the head of Hydrology at the Department of Water, told Reuters: "We measured an increase of eight centimetres in the weekend, indicating another flood wave is on its way. However, water levels in the central and southern parts of the affected area are dropping rapidly. This means if it does not rain too heavily in the next two weeks, we will not experience new record flooding."
Assistance to flood victims in the North of Namibia started on Friday, but the distributing teams are complaining about a shortage of transport. Four helicopters, three inflatable boats and one Police Land Cruiser with a boat trailer are not enough for the distribution of aid and transportation of people isolated by the floods.
A permanent solution to flood-damaged water infrastructure along the Kuiseb River Delta (Walvis Bay etc.) remains on the radar of Namibia's national water company, NamWater. It is likely to cost millions of dollars in taxpayers money. This could also mean an increase in water price at the coast.
The water supply to all towns at the coastal areas is closed every day from 22:00 to 05:00. The reason for the timing is because consumption is higher during the day and this would give reservoirs time to recover during the night. 

update (01 April 2011): The Namibia Meteorological Service is predicting more rainfall over the central and northern parts of the country next week, which could lead to a further increase in water levels. There are also reports from the Hydrological Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry that a new flood wave in the Cuvelai Basin is heading towards northern Namibia from Angola. This flood wave is expected to reach Namibia around 01 April 2011, and coincide with the predicted heavy rains.
Nearly 300 schools and 20 clinics are currently inaccessible due to floods in the northern Namibia. Estimated at least 10000 people are left destitute.
Pls also read: We never cancel anything for rain, until it does so for us (Daniel Steinmann, Namibia Economist on 01 April 2011)

update (31 March 2011): Travellers who are planning to visit Namibia's north,  or who already made bookings for lodges in the northern part of the country, should double-check with the particular establishments if they are actually open for business.
Some status updates from lodges in Namibia's north:
  • Hakusembe River Lodge - has reopened with two rooms and the floating chalet, but water levels may rise at short notice. Please call to check in advance.
  • Impalila Island Lodge - the lodge is operating as normal. The airstrip is closed, and guests are being transferred by boat from Kasane.
  • Lianshulu Lodge - the lodge is operating as normal. Update (01 April 2011): After due consideration and with reference to the market demand for beds in the Caprivi region of Namibia, it has been decided to suspend operations at Lianshulu Lodge indefinitely from 1 June 2011.
  • Namushasha Country Lodge - the lodge is operating as normal. Follow the clearly marked detour signs.
  • Ndhovu Safari Lodge - the lodge is operating as normal, but due to swamping of the access road, guests will be transported from the parking lot to the lodge by boat. The campsite is closed.
  • Ntwala Island Lodge - the lodge is operating as normal. The airstrip is closed, and guests are being transferred by boat from Kasane.
  • Susuwe Island Lodge - the lodge is operating as normal.
High river levels have caused the temporary closure of Kunene River Lodge. The lodge does not expect to be able to accommodate guests or to take any new bookings before April 2011.
In the wake of heavy rains across Namibia in the past week, forecasters say Namibians should brace themselves for more rain despite some parts drying up. Since 24 March 2011, several towns in Namibia have measured high rainfall figures. As a result, several neighbourhoods in eg Windhoek sustained serious infrastructural damage, and roads have become impassable in some areas. Rainfall figures in the northern, north-eastern and central parts of Namibia indicate that the rainfall has been spread evenly.
NamWater has admitted that the current rains and resultant floods have caused "extensive damage to a number of NamWater supply infrastructure around the country", especially in the Cuvelai and Kavango areas. Several installations of NamWater have been washed away by floodwater and most of the water stations are under water causing electrical pumps to stop functioning. People in the Cuvelai and Kavango areas might therefore experience low pressure on the pumps or no water at all. 
Water control measures in Walvis Bay are still in force (see 29 March 2011)

update (30 March 2011): Namibia's President Hifikepunye Pohamba on 29 March 2011 declared a state of emergency in northern parts of the country after heavy flooding (the heaviest floods ever recorded) displaced nearly 10000 people and washed away roads.
Some 62 people have drowned in Oshakati, 247 schools had had to close because of rising water levels, with clinics and homes submerged. The Namibian government has made available 30 million Namibian dollars to address the emergency.
More rain in southern Angola was expected to increase chances of flooding in north central parts of Namibia, where rainfall is also expected. Water levels are on the rise along the Kavango River, on the northeast of Namibia, although the condition further up in the Caprivi region is somewhat stable.

update (29 March 2011): Current water control measures in Walvis Bay will remain in force and are as follows:
- Water supply shutdown 10:00 - 18:00
- Re-open water supply 18:00 - 21:00
- Water supply shutdown 21h00 - 06h00
During the water closure periods the following public water supply points along 5th Road in town, in Frankie Abrahams Street in Kuisebmond and in Kruis Street in Narraville will be opened.

update (28 March 2011): Due to increases in demand and the need to reduce water usage, NamWater, Namibia's national water company has announced that water at the coast (eg. Swakopmund, Walvis Bay) will be shut off between 22h00 at night and 05h00 in the morning.
The Kuiseb River has reached the Walvis Bay Lagoon, and this has washed away the access road to Pelican Point, the Saltworks, Paaltjies and Sandwich Harbour. The road is being repaired.
Flooding has forced the closure of schools in the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Oshana regions.

update (26 March 2011): Flood levels in the Cuvelai basin in north-central Namibia are eight centimetres higher than in the 2009 flood season, setting a new record for the area where about one million people – half of Namibia’s population - live. 
So far 1,200 people have lost their homes and are accommodated in two temporary camps; Schools are closed for grades 1 to 10, because as the river gets higher, the small kids cannot cross any more. Apart from the highway, all the roads leading to Oshakati are washed away.

update (25 March 2011): Ben Kuutumbeni Kathindi, the Mayor of Oshakati: "The 2011 floods situation can probably take us back 1 000 years because no one is able to measure up or compare the effect".
Oshana and Ohangwena are the worst affected regions, while Oshakati is the worst affected town.
Water levels in oshanas continue to rise, with spillovers to residential areas. Water levels in the Cuvelai system have risen by up to 10cm since Monday. The water levels are as follows: Engela 1.45 m, Shanalumono 1.48 m, Sky 1.30 m, Kandjegedhi 1.45 m, Shakambebe 0.78 m, Okalongo 0.66 m, Endola 1.64 m, Okatana 1.80 m, Oshakati 1.35 m, Ompundja 2.01 m, and Ombwana recorded 1.74 m.
The flooding situation is expected to worsen as more flood waves from Angola and heavy rains are expected in the northern regions.
Also see the NASA Earth Observatory satellite pics of the flooding in Northern Namibia shot on 20 March 2011 and 17 March 2011.

update (23 March 2011): A combination of heavy rains and overflows from the Kavango and Zambezi Rivers are threatening tens of thousands of people in Northern Namibia to flee their homes. This season's unusually heavy rains and high flow of river water has caused the Zambezi River to reach record high volumes and has already caused damage to farmhouses, crops, livestock and infrastructure.
Local government officials have already begun evacuating residents to settlement camps within flood-prone areas. According to the Head of Emergency Directorate, plans are underway to evacuate over 50,000 others over the next few weeks.

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Fresh heavy rains from the central parts of Namibia have once again brought back water shortages to the residents of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, who will have to endure water rationing again, following damaged water infrastructure in the Kuiseb River.
Fresh floods recorded in the Kuiseb River have extensively damaged the vulnerable infrastructure, leaving the Municipality of Walvis Bay no option but to resort to a total water shutdown, which started yesterday evening as from 21h00 until 06h00 this morning.

Big kudos to Namibian tourism info source tourbrief (and other online resources) for keeping us updated regarding the current rain/flood situation in Namibia! Thx!

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