Zambia – “Catastrophic Situation” After Floods Hit Southern and Central Provinces

Wide areas of Southern and Central Provinces in Zambia are underwater after long-term rainfall caused rivers to overflow. Disaster authorities in Zambia have described it as a “catastrophic situation”.

Floods in Zambia, 27 January 2023. Photo: DMMU Zambia

On 27 January 2023, the country’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) conducted an aerial survey of affected communities in Bwengwa, Namwala, Monze in Southern Province, and Mumbwa district in Central Province. DDMU reported widespread damage to homes, farmland and livestock. Many communities are isolated leaving them without access to healthcare and education. Furthermore, sanitation facilities have been completely submerged, exposing the population to a high risk of waterborne diseases, DDMU said.

DDMU added that affected communities require an emergency intervention in particular delivery of both food and non-food relief items. The Government has assured that a multi-sectorial response will ensure recovery, rehabilitation and restoration.

Heavy rains and flash floods have caused damage to homes and livelihoods in the country since mid-January. In Lusangazi District (also known as Msanzala) in Eastern Province, several homes were damaged or destroyed on 16 January 2023. Twenty-seven households were affected and lost almost everything, DDMU said. Residents were advised to relocate and rebuild more resilient housing.

The Lusangazi district is close to the Luangwa River. The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) warned of rising levels of the Luangwa River in Luangwa District in Lusaka Province on 22 January.

Heavy rain and flooding affected Mumbwa District in Central Province on 17 January. An important bridge and other river crossing points were severely damaged, disrupting transport and pupils’ access to educational facilities.

Heavy rain and flash floods also damaged or destroyed homes in Chongwe district, Lusaka Province, around this time. DMMU reported 29 houses collapsed and 37 were severely damaged.

Some parts of the Luano district in Central Province were cut off due to flooding from the Mkushi River. Over 20,000 people were affected, DDMU reported on 26 January.

The Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) flood monitoring system warned of severe flooding on the Magoye and Kasaka river systems on 26 January. “These floods will affect the Mazabuka and Monze Districts of Southern Province,” WARMA said.

WARMA has been issuing flood warnings since mid-January. Some rivers are expected to be high or experience a second peak well into February, including the Luapala river in Milenge district, the Kafue river in Kitwe district, and the Zambezi river in Lukulu and Senanga districts.

An estimated 15,000 people from 3,500 households were affected by flooding in Southern Province in January last year.

Floods in Zambia, 27 January 2023. Photo: DMMU Zambia
Floods in Zambia, 27 January 2023. Photo: DMMU Zambia
Floods in Zambia, 27 January 2023. Photo: DMMU Zambia