NKURENKURU - The rapidly rising water level of the Kavango River is threatening lives and property, particularly the inhabitants of the floodplains where there is a substantial population.
Due to the rapidly increasing river level, many villagers along the floodplain areas of the Kavango Region were forced to leave their homesteads. They only took some belongings and moved to higher ground.
The situation is mainly dire along the 145-kilometre stretch between the town of Rundu and Nkurenkuru that runs along the banks of the Kavango River.
Trees are underwater but many villagers have shifted to higher ground. The Kavango River has its source in neighbouring Angola.
Villages along the riverbanks like Nankudu, Kahenge, Tondoro, Musese, Bunya Shambyu and Kapako are negatively affected by the overflowing river.
As a result of this precarious situation, the Rundu-Calais Border Post was also forced to shift from its original position as the Kavango River burst its banks.
In light of this situation, the Regional Emergency Management Unit has called on people living in the floodplains to move to higher ground and desist from fishing in the crocodile-infested waters.
According to official statistics from Namwater, the level of the Kavango River stood at 7,15 metres last Friday. This figure is much higher compared to the level of 6,21 metres a week ago.
Governor of the Kavango Region John Thighuru has urged local people in the flood-affected areas not to wait until the water level of the river is high, but rather to move to dry and much higher ground early.
At Nkurenkuru, Angolan and Namibian nationals are using 'taxi' canoes to take them and their belongings across the swelling Kavango River. Due to the high rainfall in southern Angola, the Kavango River has a heavy inflow right into the Okavango Delta in neighbouring Botswana. The highest flow at Rundu is much higher where the average number usually is 405 cubic meters per second in April. Since the rains came early this year, flooding started end of January/February this year.
The Okavango River as it is known in much of Southern Africa is considered as one of Africa's greatest river.
The river system collects all its water over a catchment of about 112 000 square kilometres, flows for a hundred kilometres down a narrow waterway and then finally disperses cross a delta covering up to 12 000 square kilometres.
Geographically the whole catchment is within one country namely neighbouring Angola, where the narrow waterway runs through a second country namely Namibia and the Okavango Delta lies in a third country in Botswana.