JOHANNESBURG, (IRIN) – Several Southern African countries are dealing with the effects of flooding following heavy rains over much of the region in the past week.
In South Africa’s northern Limpopo Province, floodwaters claimed 10 lives and left hundreds stranded after the Limpopo River burst its banks. By 22 January, the rain had subsided, but rescue operations were still underway in Musina, near South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe, said Tseng Diale, spokesperson for the province’s Disaster Management Centre.
Across the border, in Zimbabwe’s Beitbridge District, the rains damaged roads and left some areas impassable, according to state-owned newspaper The Herald, which reported that since the onset of the rainy season, floods and lightning strikes had claimed 124 lives.
In Mozambique, a UN situation report estimated that by 20 January, nearly 20,000 people throughout the country had been affected by the heavy rains. Nearly 6,000 had been displaced, the majority of them in the capital, Maputo, where the drainage system was overwhelmed by 157mm of rain falling in less than 24 hours. Nine temporary shelters have been set up in the city, and authorities have declared an “orange alert”, with the aim of scaling-up monitoring measures and strengthening preparedness in case the situation worsens.
Northern Botswana also experienced heavy downpours that resulted in severe flooding of the Dukwi Refugee Camp, about 130km outside the city of Francistown. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), about 120 refugee homes were inundated by floodwaters, and pumps have stopped working, leading to a shortage of clean water in the camp. Skillshare International, an NGO that provides vocational training programmes in the camp, is sheltering 400 of the displaced in its classrooms, and UNHCR is providing food and trying to establish temporary ablution facilities.