Flooding of the Zambezi disrupts lives in most of the region
Posted by African Press International on January 2, 2011
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Heavy rain, flood warnings
HARARE/JOHANNESBURG, 30 December 2010 (IRIN) – The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) staffed jointly by officials from Zambia and Zimbabwe, says one of the two major dams on the river between the two countries will open its flood gates in early 2011, meaning that communities may have to be relocated.
“ZRA has issued the alert, but they have not yet informed us of the dates on when they will open the gates,” said Patrick Kangwa, head of operations at Zambia’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit.
The ZRA manages Kariba Dam situated between northwestern Zimbabwe and southeastern Zambia. The opening of the gates can cause flooding and the evacuation of communities.
An official with Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services told IRIN that parts of Zimbabwe could see flooding as early as next week. “There are real fears that some areas will experience flooding and we have received some reports that some areas are experiencing too much rain,” he said.
Evert Scholtz, a forecaster with the South African Weather Services, told IRIN that heavy rain was expected over Angola, central South Africa, parts of Botswana and northern Namibia over the next five days.
Parts of South Africa experienced heavy floods in the second week of December, displacing at least 1,200 families, according to state media.
Photo: OCHA VMU
Taking note of the well-established La Niña influence, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in their latest climate outlook for December 2010 to February 2011 forecast a “wetter than normal season” for most of the region.
SADC has predicted normal to heavy rains for the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of Angola, Zambia, the southwestern half of Tanzania, Malawi, and most of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
La Niña is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, and is usually associated with more rain in Southern Africa. But meteorologists maintain it is very difficult to predict the impact, as this could vary within the African region and from one La Niña event to another.
The US Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET) has warned of possible flooding along some of the major rivers such as the Zambezi, which flows through seven southern African countries, and more cyclones in the Indian Ocean, which would affect Mozambique and Madagascar.
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