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Report Assesses Needs after Namibia’s 2009 Floods

November 4, 2010

  • In 2009, floods destroyed infrastructure, damaged homes and cut off access to health centers and schools
  • A new report assesses the damages and outlines reconstruction options to help lessen damage from future natural disasters
  • The impact of climate change is expected to exacerbate weather patterns in Namibia

WINDHOEK, November 4, 2010 -- In March 2009, torrential rains across Angola, Namibia, and Zambia caused unprecedented floods in the north-central and north-eastern regions of Namibia. The floods inflicted heavy damage to an area that is home to 60 percent of Namibia’s population, destroying critical infrastructure, washing away crops, drowning livestock, damaging homes and leading to widespread displacement.

After the initial humanitarian relief phase ended, the Government of Namibia and members of the international community including the World Bank began a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) to record the impact of the floods and outline medium and long-term recovery plans.

The final assessment of the floods details the extent of the damages and losses, the economic and social impacts, and losses by sector. It estimates the negative economic impact of the floods to be about one percent of Namibia’s 2009 GDP at a time when Namibia was already hard hit by the global financial crisis.

The report also finds that Namibia should strive towards more “climate resilient” investments for the recovery phase and develop a long-term risk management and reduction strategy.

The 2009 flood was the second devastating flood in two years after a three-year span of relatively low rainfall. Heavy rain caused water levels in the Chobe, Kunene, Kavango and Zambezi rivers to rise and submerge many local roads. As a result, local access to many health facilities and schools was cut, sewage systems overflowed and electricity was disrupted.

The early recovery stage following the initial humanitarian response focused on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations. The report estimated costs to be around US$24 million. For reconstruction and recovery in the medium term, the estimated cost is US$130 million. Long-term reconstruction and transformation costs were estimated at $460 million. All together, the total cost for the three phases amount to an estimated US$620 million, about five percent of Namibia’s 2009 GDP.

Namibia is considered one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa. This report will help guide the government with reconstruction options for the impacted area that will help lessen the damage inflicted by future natural events such as floods and droughts.

The 135-page report has a foreword by Professor Peter J. Katjavivi, formerly director General of the Namibian National Planning Commission located in the Presidency. The international team was led by the World Bank’s Jean-Christophe Carret and Seth Vordzorgbe of the United Nations Development Programme. The entire process was facilitated by the Global Facility for Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction (GFDRR).