Parliamentarians debate motion to install sufficient flood control and management measures
A parliamentary debate is underway over the need to put in place sufficient flood control and management measures and to provide financial aid to the affected communities in such a way that brings sustainable and long-term solutions.
Every flood season, property owners in high-risk flood areas face the risk of sustaining some degree of flood damage to their property. Consequently, schooling is disrupted while livelihoods are threatened, families are displaced, their homes are ruined, possessions are lost, and their food security and health are negatively impacted. All these cause psychological, emotional, and mental strain, and lawmakers cannot keep having the same conversation and start from scratch every flood season.
This is according to Elma Dienda, a Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian, who made her contribution to the debate on their approach to flood management and readiness to support affected communities, in the National Assembly this week.
The motion, tabled recently by the official opposition PDM leader McHenry Venaani, is supported by his fellow party members.
Dienda also called on her fellow MPs to join hands and minds, to give their full support to the motion, and work towards a more permanent remedy to protect citizens from the desolation and destruction of “certain” heavy flooding. She said the best way to prevent flooding incidents is to prepare for a flood before it happens.
“We cannot claim to be caught off-guard by an almost annual occurrence. We know the hand that nature has dealt us, and it is time that we anticipate and work with what we have and know so that we can be prepared and meaningfully discuss mitigation and resilience,” Dienda said.
Dienda, however, said that she has concerns about the increase in global temperatures, adding that this will change rainfall patterns, resulting in heavier rainfall in some places than what it typically would be.
According to her, the government needs to see the issue in its fullness and entirety to handle it correctly. She also suggested that the government start implementing the work of mitigation, informed by prudent foresight, anticipation, and calculated preparedness.
Moreover, she brought up the example of China’s Sponge City programme, which aims to prevent flooding and increase water supply in urban areas. “This works for China, and I am not saying we should copy and paste Sponge City concept here, but perhaps we can learn from it and tailor it to our needs. We need to to the opportunities in the challenges,” she said.
Dienda also mentioned another approach to flood management, green roofs, indicating they help store water and decrease stormwater runoff impacts on a local scale. Living roofs, also known as green roofs, have seen a spike in popularity in recent years, and for good reason, according to an article published in Homes & Gardens home interest magazine.
“So many countries are rethinking their approaches to construction to allow for smart, more resilient cities. It is time that we start to do the same and make the development necessary for our context so that we can better manage our challenges,” Dienda noted.
Diederiek Vries, a PDM Member of Parliament, responded to the debate, saying: “Between the years 1998-2017, floods affected more than 2 billion people worldwide. People who live in floodplains or non-resistant buildings, or lack warning systems and awareness of flooding hazard, are most vulnerable to floods.”
In addition, Vries noted that the occurrences of floods bring about negative experiences. According to him, in 2019, an estimated 236 000 people died from drowning, making drowning a major public health problem.
In the same year, injuries accounted for almost 8% of the total global mortality rate, and drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional death, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths, he added.
Meanwhile, the PDM parliamentarian said the government needs to implement flood control and management measures in the Ohangwena, Oshana, and Omusati regions to eliminate the dangers of floods,
He added: “The measures will aim to prevent the loss of lives in these regions, minimize human suffering of the locals, minimize property damage and economic loss, and speed up recovery and rehabilitation after the occurrence of the floods in the regions. It is, therefore, significant that Namibia develops a financial package in the National Budget for emergency disasters like floods. Having an already dedicated fund for flood emergencies will better our response to floods.”