Tuesday 19 September 2017

Hard recovery ahead after Namibia flood destroys lives

Hard recovery ahead after Namibia flood destroys lives
(Xinhuanet 03/20/17)
Hard recovery ahead after Namibia flood destroys lives

When 36-year-old Leena Asheela migrated from her village to Oshakati town in northern Namibia, she had big hopes for her life in the urban area.

"I couldn't produce enough surplus to support my family in the village due to poor yields. I decided to come to town and set up my shack and seek ways to improve my life and earn an income," she said.

Everything seemed sanguine in the beginning: Asheela worked in a bar to earn enough money to build her own shack with corrugated iron, and from there she set up her own tailoring business.

Her tailor business has been going well for two years, until the recent flood pelted the region, destroying her high hopes for a better future.

"My shack and those of fellow dwellers are now under water. My items and equipment have been damaged, and have no place to stay either," she told Xinhua.

Asheela is one of the more than 570 residents of Oshoopla settlement area who have been displaced by the recent flood in the northern part of Namibia.

The flood is caused by the overflowing Kunene River, said senior hydrologist Leonard Hango. Water levels in the Cuvelai Iishanas are rising after heavy rains in Angola caused more foods in the catchment.

Katarina Kamari, communications officer at Oshakati Town Council, said 571 residents, including 282 children, had been displaced by the floods and were accommodated in 32 tents at Ekuku, another residential under the Oshakati Town Council.

"We are grateful that we have been re-located. However we endured losses, and we continue to miss out on making a living for ourselves," said Asheela.

Challenges of relocation also persist. "Our tents are leaking because they are old, and we also do not have food," Asheela said.

According to Kamari, the town council currently provides food and basic facilities to the flood victims, assisted by local business community and the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) that has distributed first aid items such as toiletries and malaria preventive kit.

Oshana region is not the only region affected by the flood. The senior hydrologist said western parts of Ohangwena and northern Omusati regions are also among the hard-hit.

In Ohangwena region, according to Hango, residents of Odibo, Onamhinda and Engela have been relocated to Omafo where they lived in temporary shelters.

Like Asheela in Oshana region, Victoria Festus in Ohangwena region has been hard-hit by the floods.

"We have endured many losses due to the floods, including our livestock and homes," said Festus, a resident of Onamhinda village.

As for Asheela, although living in a shelter, she is still reeling from the shattered hopes of a prosperous life by the floods. "This means after the floods, I have to start from scratch again to rebuild my life," she said.

While the flood has not yet been declared as a natural disaster, Urban and Rural Development Minister Sophia Shaningwa said aid was coming.

"We have already started addressing the challenges of the people here, and we have contact business community to meet us halfway and help," said Shaningwa.

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