Zambia: Gwembe floods strand valley population

News and Press Release
Originally published
Nearly 1,700 families in Gwembe district of Southern Province have been rendered homeless and cut off by floods arising from torrential rains.
More than 1,239 hectares of crop have been destroyed by rains that have been described as the heaviest since 1974.

Munyumbwe boma, one of the central places in the area and where World Vision (WV) Zambia runs a child survival programme and other activities, has reportedly been cut off, with bridges and electricity supply lines down.

WV Zambia Operations Director Sikapale Chinzewe said the organisation was concerned about the 3,000 project children in the area. Staff have been unable to reach the children and communities.

"Whatever measures we had put in towards food security and the well-being of the people have been washed away," he noted. "Our ADP Manager intends to get into the area tomorrow, because as at now nobody can get in because of the floods."

Mr Chinzewe expressed concern about the extremities in climatic changes of the Gwembe Valley which usually caused sharp drought or floods.

Disaster and Mitigation Director Mapanza Nkwilimba said his office was awaiting an official report from the valley.

WV Zambia was in the process of surveying the area to establish the damage after last week it was reported that the first 50 houses had been destroyed. The process has now been prolonged by the new turn of events that the Meteorological Department had predicted when Cyclone Japhet hit southern Mozambique nearly two weeks ago.

200 x 50kg bags of mealie meal is is being distributed to project families. Another 200 x 50kg bags of mealie meal is to be secured on Monday.

Vice-President Enoch Kavindele visited the area yesterday and immediately directed that 450 tonnes of relief food be taken to the affected families today, Thursday March 13, to avert hunger. Because of the area being inaccessible by road, the national air force have been engaged to ferry food stocks to the area.

"The situation is really bad for the people in Gwembe district and the Government has put up measures to contain it. Over 1,679 households have been affected, while 1239 hectares of land have been washed away," he said, adding that the rock and sand had buried some fields.