WINDHOEK, Feb 12 - The Zambezi River is rising at a rate consistent with trends recorded at the same time last year, which months later led to flooding in north-eastern parts of the country.
Yesterday the river, as measured by the Department of Water Affairs at Katima Mulilo, was 1,84 metres deep - just 0,3 millimetres short of its level at the same time last year.
On Tuesday the river level was an exact match with last year's recording on the corresponding day of 2003, standing at 1,8 m.
Senior Research Technical Officer Vincent Simana told The Namibian that since Friday there had only been a 0,2 mm difference in the daily readings compared with the same time in 2003.
Although he says there is no cause for alarm just yet, Simana is predicting much higher levels in the next two months.
"The big flood is still coming. But it is not a disaster yet," he said.
Simana ruled out the possibility of a harvest from the eastern parts of Caprivi this year, saying most fields close to the river were now waterlogged and could not be ploughed.
Travel is still possible in some places by four-wheel drive, but this depends on whether water channels are full or not.
Simana said residents in the area were fully aware they would have to move their livestock to higher ground, but appeared reluctant to move themselves.
The Deputy Director of Hydrology in the Department of Water Affairs, Guido van Langenhove, said this week that it was quite normal for the Zambezi to rise during February and that current levels were not a sure predictive of severe flooding later on.
He said river levels and flow were closely monitored with the aid of information coming from Zambia.
Van Langehove told The Namibian that the data obtained at Lukulo, 300 kilometres north of the border, provided a rough guide to the state of the river in the Caprivi about a fortnight later.