By Simon Liseli at Lisikili
The Building Resilient African Communities (BRACES), the first of its kind, which aims at making communities stronger and more engaged in local disaster management, was recently launched in Caprivi region.
The launch which took place at Lisikili Combined School ,36 kilometers north east of Katima Mulilo town, also aims to resilient to the effects of disasters.
The project is funded by the American Red Cross and implemented in Caprivi region by the Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) under disaster management.
The BRACES project that started in October 2011 is part of the Zambezi River Basin Initiative (ZRBI) operating across seven countries mostly affected by the Zambezi River and will be implemented before end of September 2013.
Secretary General for NRCS Mrs. Dorkas Kapembe-Haiduwa said BRACES will mitigate impacts of climate change and added that NRCS aims to save the lives, protect livehoods and strengthen recovery, all which will be addressed by BRACES as disaster management activities are effective. “We are grateful to the American Red Cross for providing the funding that made this project possible. Caprivi as one of the poorest regions in Namibia, with a relatively densely population of about 100 000 people, is always affected by flood delineated by the Zambezi, Chobe and Kwando rivers.
Some of the common disasters experienced in the region includes drought, veld fires, human and animal outbreak as well as floods which affects the communities, economies, infrastructure, environment and development priorities of the region.
Communities themselves implement measures to limit damage and increase resilience to save lives.” Kapembe-Haiduwa said.
She noted that the impacts of such disasters have stretched beyond the limited capacity of local authorities as floods resulted in loss of livehoods, increase food insecurity and vulnerability to communities.
Kapembe-Haidulwa said the disaster response has been the main challenge in the region as it hard to reach the communities to make them more vulnerable and reiterated to communities that Red Cross will continue to give support and provide resources where and when needed.
“We work side-by-side with the community members to better understand the risks they face, mitigate common hazards, develop action plans, conduct disaster trainings, collect and distribute relief items and implement early warnings systems to better predict and react to threats”
Since the commencement of the project, establishment of community based disaster risk management committees, community awareness about the project and disaster risk reduction were made.
These included conducting baseline survey and vulnerable capacity assessment, the result which will be used in developing actions that are aimed at disasters risk reductions in communities,” said Mrs. Kapembe.
Caprivi regional governor Hon. Alfea Lawrence Sampofu echoed similar sentiments saying the project will focus more on four communities who are always at risk during rainy season and these are communities found in Schuckmansberg, Mbalasinte, Imukusi and Lisikili respectively.
Sampofu said the ZRBI estimates that over 24000 people in the region that lived along the basin, are at risk and need some form of resilience against the frequent hazard of floods in the area.
“BRACES came at the right time. People need to be aware of the signs of flood so that they can move to higher lands before their homes and properties are flooded and destroyed” Hon. Sampofu said.
He also commended the Red Cross Society for their community involvement and for providing relief efforts in the country.