Editor's Comment

Don’t take chances with floods

THE floods experienced at the Chipata Level One Hospital in Lusaka on Monday and other parts of the country are yet another reminder of the need to prepare for the worst in view of climate change.
The heavy rains that poured down on Monday left the hospital flooded leading to the evacuation of some patients.
In our last Sunday edition, we published a story of 300 families that were displaced in Mambwe due to flash floods.
The floods damaged houses, crops and other properties relegating the people to instant destitution.
It ought to be known now that the effects of climate change manifest through floods and droughts, among other adverse weather conditions. So the collectively as a nation, as well as individually, Zambia must prepare for the worst.
In Zambia, the trend has been such that every rainy season the country experiences drought in some areas and floods in others.
In some places after a spell of drought, the rains come as though in arrears causing floods in just one downpour as was the case in Lusaka and other areas.
It is said “once beaten twice shy”. It is, therefore, unacceptable to experience floods year in, year out and yet not do anything about it.
With climate change worsening, the effects will also only worsen. It is not rocket science to determine that floods are not likely to reduce.
The only way is to prepare before the rainy season for possible floods.
This calls for attitude change by all citizens. Most people would rather sit idly by and wait for Government to do something about their challenges even when the solution is at their disposal. The “Boma iyanganepo” syndrome is very unproductive and retrogressive.
For instance, it is a bare fact that some of the floods experienced in the cities are due to lack of or poorly maintained drainage systems.
While the council shoulders the responsibility to provide basic services such as drainages, it is sad that in most areas these are turned into dumpsites.
Most drainages are clogged with plastics and all sorts of debris deposited by residents in these areas.
It is saddening that even the newly constructed Bombay drainage has not been spared.
The debris thrown into drainages prevents the free flow of water thereby causing floods.
Even in cases where there are no drainages, instead of risking lives and property, residents can improvise by digging trenches around houses to allow for the flow of water.
This does not exempt the council authorities from doing their job of providing such services, but it helps residents to avert the consequences while waiting for the long-term solution.
The council has an obligation to provide such basic services to the public.
The public should only come in to supplement the efforts of the councils.
For instance, the councils need to put in place proper garbage disposal systems to prevent the public from disposing of such indiscriminately.
The council will also do well to decentralise its services to the townships for effective and efficient service delivery.
There are also areas which are known to be flood-prone. In such instances, the solution is to relocate.
It is understandable that a decision to relocate comes with its own costs and inconveniences because for some people, they may have occupied those areas for a very long time. But whatever the cost, it cannot equate to risking or losing everything, including life.
The suffering and trauma that victims of floods go through is horrendous and no one should go through such if there is a way out.
Needless to say, the displaced families in Mambwe bear witness to the devastating effects of falling victim to floods.
Regardless of the inconvenience, people are better off taking that bold step of relocating to higher and much safer areas.
As trends indicate, we do not need a prophet to tell us that floods will be with us for as long as climate change is in effect.
Planning and preparedness is the only way out.




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