Saturday, March 8, 2008

Flooding in the North Update 1

Here is an email I received today updating the flood situation in the North of Namibia. The first part is from my friend Fr. Lukas Katenda. the second part and photos are from Nancy Robson who lives at the Odibo mission. Please keep the people of Northern Namibia in your prayers.

Dear People of God,

This is another update on the flooding waters in Namibia. These photos were taken today or yesteday by Mrs. Nancy Robson at St Mary's Mission Odibo. Her message speaks it all. Take a look, we have one main town in the north called Oshakati. I understand that, the bridge that links Oshakti to the rest of the country has begun to crak as the waters are too much. The main shopping malls are there, the Intermediate Hospital is there, Banks etc. No body knows what will happen, the rivers are still overflowing, as the rains continues in southern Angola and Northern Namibia. Peace Lukas

Today (Saturday) I managed to get a lift to Oshikango with a local storeman who is still prepared to take the plunge through the deep water at the far end from Odibo. He said the water was more than yesterday. It was not one of the big bakkies but the door was higher than my knee and the floorboards were flooded but luckily the car did not stall. On walking back, I was not so lucky with a lift, the water came to my crotch. I was dressed in shorts & prepared for this. For those of you who have not been here in the past 4 years or so this road leaves Oshikngo on the far south of the town & runs south of the mission. The bakkie stuck in the water is on the Odibo -Oshikango road.
I had heard on the TV that Engela, Ongenga (to the west of Engela) & some of the other clinics in the district were cut off by the floods so I took the opportunity (by taxi) to go and view the Omafo-Engela road. In the first pic you can just see the old Engela hosp on the right of the pic. The 3rd pic shows the force of the water going through a culvert under the road. You will see from the first pic how the tar road has washed away. That happened last night I believe. For some days now the water has been flowing across the road but then it caved in. Odibo will now have to take their patients to Eenhana. For some time now the Odibo transport has had to go via Ondobe which is half way to Eenhana & then hit the tar and return to Engela. As the Efundja floods is bringing more & more water down we do not know what we are really in for yet.
The President has declared the north as a state of Emergency. As yet I have not been to Oshakati but plan to go on Wednesday (with a driver) We have to go via Ondobe which adds another 55km to a single trip to Osh. I understand that the eastern part of the town is one big lake. There was also mention in Wednesday's paper that there were signs of 2 cracks in one of the bridges due to the force of the water going through. If any of those bridges packs in Oshakati will be cut off from everywhere and everything! I think it is time to do some stock piling of food while at Oshakati!
These floods are unprecedented. A month ago it was said that the volume of water was equal to the 1950 floods but since then there has been much more. In 1950 there must have been at least half the number of people living in the north. The many, many homesteads that have been washed away is because many of them were built in what was traditionally flood plains but with these floods ever having been much in the intervening years and ground being scarce people have built in them.
The last pic shows the tent town at Oshikango which is housing about 200 people. However many flood victims have gone to family or friends. These are ones who had nowhere to go to. The tents house about 10 people each. More are needed but none are available.
Our Orphan project is looking into doing supplementary feeding at the schools where flood victims attend and today I found the headman's right hand and we will try and organise some food from Portuagal Wholesale for him to collect. Children from Grade 1 - 3 are not attending school as the water is too deep for them to get there. We need to see if the Education dept can find someone to go out there to help in that area. Next week!

Report of Floods in the Oshikango / Ohangwena Constituancy
Oshikango 28 households 212 people in 16 tents (about ? are children)
Ekango - 5 households 41 people in 4 tents
Onaminda - 1 tent 15 persons

22 in their own corrugated shelters but fed by the constituency
Onamunama 21 households 142 people 4 tents (rain flooding)
Rain damage to homesteads extends to Omundangilo (over 100kms east of Oshikango)

The President has described these floods as "unprecedented proportions. As a result, the survival of a large percentage of our population in Namibia is under serious threat"
Impact of floods:

Farmers have lost 25,850 animals
17 Schools in Ohangwena affected - at Odibo CS teachers walk through 8 oshanas to get to school.
9 Schools in Kabbe affected
Yield prospects reduced by 40%
Cultivation are reduced by 50%


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