Zambian Floods Humanitarian Bulletin No.1
Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) issued a press statement that they will be opening one of the Kariba gates. However, it is not stated when this will be done, but the ZRA has indicated they will provide seven days notice before releasing the gate. This will have an effect on the Kafue river basin and the Luangwa River basin and regionally on the Zimbabwe and Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique. Warnings are being formally issued to neighboring countries.
The rain bearing system (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) is now being pushed up and is oscillating around the central parts of Zambia. This implies reduced rainfall performance in terms of intensity and coverage (i.e. will be more localized in nature) in southern half of the country while in the northern half, it's expected to increase with heavy rainfall expected over parts of Copperbelt, Northern, North Western, Luapula and some parts of Western Provinces. All these are expected to happen during the next ten day period beginning February 1, 2008.
With the expected increase in rainfall in the northern half of the country, it is anticipated that the water levels in the Kafue River Basin will continue to increase prompting further opening of the spill way gates on the Itezhi-tezhi Dam. This will to a larger extent affect people's livelihood patterns which is predominantly crop production and livestock rearing as most of the crops will be inundated and pasture areas will greatly be reduced.
On the down stream of Kafue, it is also expected that the levels at Kafue Gorge will continue to increase as per attached daily spills so far experienced as a result of increased rainfall in the Kafue Basin and Kafue areas.
The rainfall analysis covering 11-20 January shows that rainfall continues to be on the higher side when compared to the same period last year with the exception of Choma, Kalomo, Sinazongwe, Siavonga, Chavuma, Zambezi and most parts of Eastern Province. The only difference this year has been on the distribution, which has been quite consistent from the start of the season to date.
To date, Southern Province has been the hardest hit, with reports of districts being unreachable by road due to washed away bridges and other damaged infrastructure. Eastern Province also has been hit with infrastructure damage, especially to bridges.
Government, UN, INGO, and NGO counterparts fear that severe flood could escalate in roughly three to four weeks when rising river waters from Angola and DRC flow into Zambian rivers and streams; which will also affect downstream Mozambique.