Dispatch from Namibia: Helping communities recover from flooding

Namibia is a large country affected by a strange mix of disasters: both droughts and floods. Earlier this year, floods affected the north eastern part of the country, where it borders four other countries in Southern Africa: Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. This area is home to the massive Zambezi River which flows into the beautiful Victoria Falls. When the Zambezi River overflows as a result of heavy rains, all communities along the river are affected. This is what happened to 17,000 people in Namibia earlier this year.

When flooding occurred, the Namibia Red Cross was there to help with evacuations and provide essential household items such as blankets, hygiene packages and shelter material. As people moved into temporary camps nearby, the Red Cross also helped to manage the camps and work with government to organize food and water services.

All of this was supported by the Canadian Red Cross through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development as part of the overall international Red Cross (IFRC) effort. This aid was much needed and helped the Namibia Red Cross respond to 11,000 affected persons.

Now the operation is finishing and all affected persons have returned home. The International Red Cross is conducting an evaluation of the operation and Canadian Red Cross is participating in this. As part of the evaluation, I visited affected persons, talked with government officials and met Red Cross staff and volunteers to understand the successes and challenges of the operation.

We visited the affected areas to understand how people coped with the flood and if the support the Red Cross provided was relevant.

Floods occur regularly in this part of the world and we want to improve the speed and effectiveness of our humanitarian assistance.