The Herald, 18 February 2011
HIGH water levels in the Zambezi River, induced by heavy rains upstream in Zambia and Namibia, coupled with the opening of five sluice gates at Lake Kariba have flooded the mid-Zambezi stretch of Mana Pools and Rukomichi.
Late yesterday, it was not clear how many people had been evacuated and how many still remained marooned.
Parks public relations manager Miss Caroline Washaya-Moyo said, “There has been serious flooding there.
“Mana Pools Camp has been literary turned into an island and we have started evacuating people.
“Several Government officials, including Parks regional director Mr Tawanda Gotosa and Mashonaland West Governor Faber Chidarikire have gone to the area to asses the situation,” said Ms Washaya-Moyo.
Ms Washaya-Moyo warned tourists not to visit the area and to confirm with the parks office for further information.
Water levels in the middle and lower Zambezi Valley have been rising since the end of January when the Zambezi River Authority opened spillway gates.
Meanwhile, the ZRA will close the gates tomorrow to allow divers to inspect the plunge pool which is downstream.
“The authority will be carrying out inspections of the Kariba Plunge Pool immediately downstream of the spillway gates from the 19th to 26th February 2011.
“The authority will therefore temporarily close the spillway gates during this period to allow the inspection by divers.
“The gates will be re-opened immediately after the inspection. The public should note that no further notice will be given for the re-opening of the spillway gates,” said the authority in a statement.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The rainy season is around the corner. According to the Meteorological Services Department, the country is likely to receive normal to above normal rains, which means a good season for the agricultural industry. However, similar predictions in the past have seen places like the Zambezi Valley flooding, and resulting in disasters.
As Government and the people prepare for the 2020-2021 cropping season, preparations on mitigating against flooding and other natural disasters should be prioritised: evacuation teams and equipment and, alternative shelter. Disaster preparedness must be top priority, considering the unpredictability of nature.
Donors must be the last resort, after exhausting local resources, notwithstanding the ravages on the economy caused by the illegal sanctions, drought and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state of preparedness must take into consideration Government’s desire to restore the tourism industry. It should also be done with the knowledge that the Zambezi Valley is a rising economic giant through tourism and mining industries.