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Heavy rains in Angola flood Zambia and Botswana

Map - SADC River

Major river systems of Southern Africa
Abnormal rainfall in Angola has inundated river systems and caused extensive flooding in neighbouring Zambia and northern Botswana, disaster officials told IRIN on Friday. "More than 4,480 households have been affected as the Zambezi continues to rise," said Dominiciano Mulenga, the national coordinator of Zambia's Disaster Management Unit. "As heavy rains continue to fall in Angola and in the Western province, we expect the Zambezi to flood Lake Kariba. We will eventually have to open the sluice gates, which will lead to further flooding downstream [in southern Zambia]," Mulenga explained. In Zambia, northern Namibia and the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana the level of the river is still rising. The Zambezi, the longest river in Southern Africa, flows through western Angola, western and southern Zambia and into Lake Kariba, then across northern Zimbabwe and central Mozambique. Five districts in western Zambia - Senanga, Kalabo, Mongu, Lukulu west and Zambezi West - had been flooded, Mulenga said. The authorities were attempting to airlift food packages to affected households, but had limited resources and were unable to reach all of them. Across the border in Namibia, an estimated 50,000 people are at risk after the worst flooding in 50 years in northeastern Caprivi, while next door in northern Botswana, water levels in the Okavango have continued to rise, threatening communities living in the delta. "About 992 households in the Ngamiland province, where the Okavango delta is located, have been affected," Joyce Mosweu, director the National Disaster Management Unit in Botswana told IRIN. The delta normally floods in May, when Angola receives seasonal downpours, "but heavy rains in Angola at this time of the year have already started the flooding," she said. Mosewu said the authorities feared for the safety of about 600 people residing on the islands of Jao Flats and Xaxaba in the Okavango river, who have been refusing to move to drier areas. "The islands are already experiencing flooding - we fear that when the annual flooding begins in May, we might have to evacuate the people in dangerous conditions," she added. The unusual amount of rainfall in Angola has taken its toll, with 60 percent of the crops in parts of the central province of Huambo destroyed, humanitarian agencies reported last month. The World Food Programme estimates that as a result, 200,000 people will require continued food assistance. Meanwhile, water levels in the Pungue river in Mozambique's central Sofala province have normalised, Rogerio Mangoele, spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Institute in Maputo said. The Pungue burst its banks in early March, affecting 400 people who farm next to the river. Waters in the rivers Save and Buzi, which also flow through Mozambique, have subsided as well.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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