Zambia – Thousands Affected by Floods in North

Satellite images show widespread flooding in northern parts of Zambia, affecting a possible 7,000 people.

Flooding in Lunga district, Zambia, March 2020. Photo: Diocese of MANSA

Among the worst hit areas is Lunga District in Luapula Province, where many houses have been submerged, some residents stranded and others have moved to higher ground. Local church organisation the Diocese of MANSA is appealing for help for the flood victims in the district.

Flooding has also affected other nearby areas in the north of the country. Copernicus Sentinel-1 Satellite images produced by UNITAR–UNOSAT showed over 700km2 of land under water in parts of Chitambo district in Central Province, Lavushi Manda district in Muchinga Province, Chilubi District in Northern Province and Samfya as well as Lunga District in Luapula Province.

UNITAR–UNOSAT said that an estimated 7,000 people could be affected by the flooding, including around 3,000 in Lunga District and 1,500 in Samfya District both in Luapula Province. Around 1,500 could also be affected in Chilubi District, Northern Province.

Flooded areas (marked as red) in northern Zambia, March 2020. Image: UNITAR – UNOSAT. See the full image here (pdf)


“This map illustrates satellite-detected waters in Chitambo, Lunga, Samfya, Lavushimanda and Chilubi District; Central, Luapula, Muchinga and Northern Province of Zambia as observed from Sentinel-1 imagery acquired on 4 March 2020.

“Within the analysed area of 10,000 km2, a total of about 705 km2 of land appear to be flooded. Based on Worldpop population data and the detected surface waters, about 7,000 people are potentially exposed or living close to flooded areas.”

Parts of Zambia have seen flooding since December last year.  Recently flooding displaced hundreds of people in Eastern Province in early February 2020. This followed earlier waves of flooding in the province, first from late December 2019, and again in late January 2020.

In January, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported flooding in Gwembe and Siavonga districts in Southern Province, fearing it could aggravate the already fragile food insecurity situation, with more than 2.3 million people expected to be severely food insecure during the lean season following severe drought.