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Lake Oponono in Oshana region grows threefold

Lake Oponono in Oshana region grows threefold

Lake Oponono, the collector basin for the main drainage lines in the western Cuvelai system, is filling up fast from floodwaters that started flowing south more than two weeks ago. The areas of the natural, shallow lake that is under water now exceeds 10,000 hectares.

Satellite images from Sentinel-1 acquired on 02 and 14 March 2017 show a huge increase of the surface waters in less than two weeks.

The situation is likely to be worsened by more flood water coming from Angola, approaching the already flooded communities in the large wetland fed by the Culevai seasonal drainage system.

Hydrological gauging stations recorded higher water levels this year compared to the floods that hit the same areas in 2008, 2009 and 2011 due to heavy rains in northern Namibia and southern Angola.

In the villages surrounding Lake Oponono, a total of 182 households have been moved to relocation camps, representing 1,092 people who are in need of emergency relief.

Through the Regional Disaster Risk Management Committees of Oshana and Omusati regions, the Namibia Red Cross regional staff conducted field visits to relocation camps in both regions to investigate the extent and impact of the floods.

Late last week, the disaster unit in the Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement on the flood conditions saying contingency planning is urgently required.

On the inflow side to the north and north-west of Lake Oponon, just over 4000 hectares were under water at the beginning of March. By the middle of this month, it has grown to almost 11,000 hectares.

UNITAR, the agency responsible for the satellite imagery, said although the extent of the surface water can readily be observed on the images, the results on the ground have not been validated yet.

The Namibia Red Cross Society has engaged the acting Disaster Management Coordinator at the South African Red Cross and the International Red Cross as well as the Red Cross regional office in Nairobi, backed by the Geneva Disaster Management team, to provide support and guide the planning of the response.

It is further warned that the current flooding in the Cuvelai is comparable to that of 2011, which caused major damage to houses and infrastructure. The Red Cross’ immediate contigency plans are coordinated at regional level by the Disaster Risk Management committees.

Indicating an expected worsening of local flooding, the Hydrological Department in Ondjiva in Angola said most of the town has been flooded in the past week. This water, as it migrates to Namibia, is likely to raise the water levels even further. During the weekend, extensive rain continued in the catchment areas around Ondjiva.

Displaced communities currently in relocation camps in Oshana region have limited access to proper accommodation, sanitation, clean water and preventative items like mosquito.

To date, the Omusati and Oshana Regional Councils have conducted site visits to relocation camps and provided temporary accommodation. Government officials and the local town councils have so far provided tents and food to the affected families at the relocation camps.

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