Namibia: Floods in Mariental OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0034
Situation Report No. 1
Namibia -Floods in Mariental
Began on 25 February 2006

This report is based on information provided by the Emergency Management Unit (EMU) within the Office of the Prime Minister, the Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) and two of the national newspapers, The Namibian and the New Era.

Event and Impact

1. Heavy rain poured over the Hardap Region on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February filling the Hardap Dam, which is fed by more than 8 rivers, to its maximum level. On Saturday morning, the 14,000 inhabitants of Mariental were requested to evacuate the town and to move to higher ground. By Saturday evening, the Dam overflowed and flooded Mariental town. The delay in opening the sluices is said to have caused the flooding of the town.

2. To date, two people, including a child, have drowned and one person is missing. As of Monday 27 February 2006, 330 households (2100 people) are displaced. The floods have submerged 122 houses and 80 businesses, including Mariental's biggest supermarket and the town's pig farm, which is the main local supplier of pork to the Namibian market. Sewerage pipes burst and graves in a local cemetery were also damaged by the rising waters. At this stage, the damage caused by the floods is estimated at over N$ 50 million (estimates do not cover rehabilitation costs).

3. Traffic on Namibia's main north-south highway was brought to a standstill on Saturday, not only trapping people in Mariental, but also leaving rows of cars and trucks to and from South Africa stranded. The road is not expected to be cleared before the end of the week even if the rain stops.

4. While the level of water is decreasing in Mariental, experts are concerned about the situation downstream (the Fish River Canyon), towards Ketmanshoop and Ai-Ais.

National Response

5. On 25 February 2006, the Hardap Governor alerted the Deputy Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary and the Government Emergency Management Unit about the situation. On Sunday 26 February, she approached the President of Namibia, requesting him to consider declaring the flood stricken town of Mariental a "disaster area". The Ministry of Agriculture, Hardap Regional Council and the Mariental Municipality are responsible for the overall coordination of the operation led by the Chief Executive Officer.

6. At the national level, the Emergency Management Unit in the Prime Minister's Office has put up an emergency team together to manage the situation and to coordinate the relief efforts and the evacuation of those affected by the floods. A team was dispatched to the area to assess the basic needs of the victims and on Sunday 26 February, the National Emergency Management Committee met to decide on the way forward.

7. The Government has dispatched military and police teams as well as a rescue helicopter (provided by the Ministry of Works) to the area to conduct search-and-rescue operations and to facilitate the evacuation process. On Sunday 26 February, some 44 people were rescued from surrounding farms by helicopter and boat, while the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) members have been patrolling the flooded areas of the town to keep looters away from deserted houses and businesses. People rescued have been accommodated in schools and hostels. Schools will most likely remain closed for the duration of the emergency.

8. The Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) joined the Government assessment team on 25 February 2006 and provided the following non-food items: 120 blankets, 240 collapsible jerry cans, 100 mosquito nets, 20 tarpaulins and 2 first aid kits. The NRCS is supporting Government efforts.

9. So far the urgent needs, identified by the EMU and the Red Cross, include:

- Health, water and sanitation: Portable water for 14,000 people for one month, purification tablets for 4,000 households for one month, water containers, mobile toilets for 2300 households for one month, mosquito nets and hygiene kits for 330 households, first aid kits, and psychosocial support for displaced people.

- Shelter: 100 family tents and blankets, mattresses and tarpaulins for 330 households.

- Food Aid to support 330 households.

The Government's team is meeting in Windhoek today (Monday 27 February) to come up with a clearer picture of the affected population's needs.

International Response

10. The IFRC Regional Delegation was alerted to the situation and will deploy 3 water and sanitation engineers and provide equipment to treat and store up to 5,000 liters of clean water.

11. The UN has not received any specific request for assistance yet.

12. The EMU will keep the UN informed as the situation evolves through the UN Humanitarian Affairs Officer (HAO) and will invite the UN to join in any forthcoming assessments to the affected areas.

MAP: Namibia: Floods in Mariental


For further information please contact:

Ms. Héloïse Ruaudel, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Office of the Resident Coordinator Tel: +264 61 204 62 33 Fax: +264 61 204 62 03 E-mail

Mr. Chris Kaye, RDRA for RO , Southern Africa Tel: +27833004960 Fax:+27 115171638 E-mail

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:

Mr. Alfred Nabeta, direct Tel. +41-22-917 2732
Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, direct Tel. +41-22-917 1712

Press contact:

(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-367 5126


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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