UN seeks US$2.3 million to assist victims of floods in Namibia

News and Press Release
Originally published

(Windhoek, 14 April 2011): The United Nations Country Team in Namibia urgently seeks US$2.3 million to support national efforts to assist around 60,000 people who have been displaced by record flooding in the north of the country.

An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people have had their livelihoods affected or destroyed, while 65 people have died in the seven affected regions of northern Namibia (Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Okavango, Caprivi, Kunene, and Oshikoto). Many rural areas remain inaccessible as they are completely surrounded by water and can only be reached by helicopters or boats. Moreover, the sustained high water table resulting from repeated floods over the last three years mean that flood water levels are unlikely to recede for three to six months, and the Namibia Meteorological Service has predicted additional rainfall until the end of this month.  

As a point of comparison, river water levels in northern Namibia are already 30-40 cm higher than the peak period of the emergency flood conditions of 2009 that affected 360,000 persons, or 17 per cent of the total Namibian population.

“This appeal is founded upon the initial results of a joint rapid assessment led by the Government of Namibia and supported by over 50 staff from UN agencies, the Namibian Red Cross and other national and international agencies,” said UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Kari Egge, referring to a mission undertaken across the northern regions from 5-9 April. “Final results from this assessment are currently being collated and will be available for analysis by partners after 16 April. The appeal has also been based upon the detailed IASC contingency plan prepared for flooding that was updated in March 2011,” she added.

Recognising that the government is leading the response, that the Red Cross is the largest operational agency in the field and has recently mounted its own appeal, and that the capacity of the international humanitarian community in Namibia is relatively small, the appeal seeks to strategically target five priority sectors in support of government response efforts over the next three to six months, namely, food security; health and nutrition; protection; education; water, sanitation and hygiene. Assistance will also be provided to enhance coordination of international assistance to the victims of flood in the affected regions.

“We intend to support the Government of Namibia in mounting a timely, consistent and coordinated response to minimize the humanitarian consequences on the population through the provision of technical advice in key sectors, monitoring of relief activities, and provision of coordination and information management support,” Ms. Egge noted. “We will likewise work to ensure that protection and assistance is provided to the affected population in need in an effective and timely manner, targeting in particular gaps in response.”

On 29 March 2011, a state of national emergency was declared by the President to respond to large-scale flooding in the north and northeast regions of the country, and a simultaneous request for international assistance was issued following an aerial rapid assessment conducted by national authorities from 25 to 27 March 2011.