Okavango River comes alive

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 18 March 2020   |   By Solomon Tjinyeka
Okavango Delta Okavango Delta

Communities residing along the Okavango Delta are holding their breath for a better year, following reports that Angola has received heavy rains earlier this year. The community is hopeful that the Okavango Delta which derives its water from Angolan highlands at Huambo will feed other streams such as Boro and Gomoti streams which in turn feed the Thamalakane river in Maun. 

Information from Department of Water and Sanitation in Maun indicate that the Okavango river at Mohembo is showing a steady increase in flows since December 2019. The flow measured on the 21st February 2020 was 401.218 m3/s which is already higher than the peak flow measured during last year hydrological year in the 8th March the same 2019, which was 254.400 m3/s. The flow measure around the same period in the last hydrological year was 230, 391 m3/s on the 21st February 2019.

The Department of Water and Sanitation, Acting Director, Baemedi Letsholathebe explained that the recent water levels recorded on the 2nd March 2020 was 2.675 m adding that this is the highest level that was recorded during the same period (02/03/19) at Mohembo since the 2015/16 hydrological year and has already exceeded two peaks recorded in the last five hydrological years. Letsholathebe also added that the peak water level measured in the last hydrological year 2018/19 on the March 7th 2019 was 1.380m.

The Acting Director explained that as soon as water levels at Mohembo reaches the bank full level of 3.350m, the area starts experiencing inundation or flooding. He however said that the department is closely monitoring the situation and reporting to the relevant authorities.

He also stated that the contribution of local rainfall is insignificant in relation to flows especially in the Okavango, hence the flows in the Okavango river depend mainly from the inflows from the upstream of the basin (Angola and Namibia).

He added that therefore, contingency planning for early warning and floods mitigation will be activated around communities living in flood prone areas and precautionary measures will be taken where and when necessary.

Letsholathebe also highlighted that last week reports from Namibia indicate that the water level of the Kavango river at Rundu remain above-normal and remains higher in comparison with the past four years. He also added that the water levels at Rundu as recorded on the 4th March 2020 was 7.57 m as compared to 5.06 m and are slightly dropping.