Sadc experts warn of floods Poor infrastructure such as roads and bridges could swing a country’s ability to reduce “the risk of a natural event turning into a disaster” to dangerous levels

Innocent Ruwende : Senior Reporter

SADC weather experts have warned of potential floods in the region following the prediction of normal to above normal rainfall in Southern Africa this season. The experts, however, said the rainfall outlook was good for agriculture as it presented a conducive opportunity for farmers to maximise on production.According to the Regional Early Warning Bulletin for the 2016/17 Rain Season released on Wednesday by the Sadc Climate Services Centre, planning for extreme events is an essential way forward for all Sadc Member States for mitigation and adaptation measures.

“For Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) sector, the forecast suggests a likelihood of normal to above normal rains, which has the potential to lead to incidences of flooding.”

“In the worst case scenario, flooding may lead to loss of lives, displacement of populations, destruction of properties and infrastructure; and interrupt access to basic social services such as schools, health facilities and markets.

Affected areas may also face outbreaks of water and vector borne diseases,” reads the bulletin.

It said the 2016/17 rainfall outlook was good for agriculture because it presented an opportunity to maximise on production.

The Sadc weather experts said from a crop production perspective, farmers could comprehensively utilise the forecast by committing a larger portion of their cropland to medium to late maturing, high performance varieties.

The experts urged farmers to put early maturing, and drought-tolerant crops and varieties on some percentage of the cropland as a contingency measure to guard against the outside possibility of below average rains.

Sadc has developed flood focused methodology to assess the level of preparedness in the region based on the five Hyogo Priorities for Action and 20 associated Indicators, but using indicators adapted to focus on flood risk issues to assess the Flood Risk Management (FRM), preparedness, and road map for future FRM activities.

According the preparedness scores and maps, the priority Member States for Flood Risk Management investments are DRC, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Angola, Madagascar and Zambia.

“Recent experience in Malawi has also shown up shortcomings there. Member States with lower rank of preparedness for FRM may take necessary initiative, in order to mitigate the risk foreseen in the coming rainy season,” reads the bulletin.

Zimbabwe is expected to receive normal to above normal rains during the 2016-17 rainfall season with agriculture experts advising farmers to plant with the first rains.

The higher than usual rains are expected to come as early as late September in some parts of the country.

Meteorological Services Department senior forecaster Ms Vimbayi Mamombe said there was a high likelihood of an early start of the season for the whole country, with significant rains coming as early as late September in the southern areas of Zimbabwe.

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