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Namibia: Fish farms face flood threat

NAMIBIA - Current flooding in the Caprivi Region poses a threat to the existing fish farms developed to enhance food security and reduce unemployment among the rural communities.

Yesterday, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Abraham Iyambo, said the rising water levels in the Zambezi River and generally the flooding in the Caprivi are a great concern as far as fish farms are concerned.

Over the past weekend the minister visited three fish farms in the region to assess the possible negative impact on their ponds and the possible safety risk of the people managing the farms.

Iyambo says Litapi fish farm is in danger as it is completely surrounded by water.

“The road to this farm is inaccessible and the small bridge has been destroyed by water. We had to use one of the ministry’s patrolling boats to get to the farm,” he said.

With about 150 000 fish in its ponds and each fish weighing between 200 and 300 grams, almost ready for harvesting, there is fear that if water levels in the Zambezi continue to rise the fish ponds might be swept away.

During the previous floods in 2004, the ministry built an embankment to stop the water from flowing into the ponds. Unfortunately this barrier was partly destroyed by horses from the nearby homesteads and thus there is a danger that water might flow into the ponds.

Although Likunganelo fish farm has not yet flooded, water is estimated to be 10 metres away from the farm. As a protective measure, the ministry recently requested engineers to increase the embankment.

“The farm has a lot of fish (more than 120 000) and the concern is if it gets flooded people will lose out on their hard work,” Iyambo stated.

The minister, who flew over Kalimbeza farm due to its inaccessibility, says reports to his office indicate that the farm is in danger such that fish had to be transferred from the ponds that are near to the river.

There are about 400 000 fish at the three farms.

“Overall, the floods are serious and we are concerned,” he said.

Government developed freshwater fish farms four years ago. Fish farming projects have the potential to create job opportunities for rural communities as well as address issues such as food security and income.

There are 150 employees at the three fish farms in the Caprivi and a lot more who benefit indirectly. It is estimated that this sector will employ 1 640 people by the year 2009.

Catfish and tilapia are the two common species at these farms.

Meanwhile, water levels continue to rise in the region, with Monday readings standing at 6.76 metres. With less rain received in the country this year, the water is reported to be coming from the northern parts of Zambia and Angola.

With its source in Zambia, the Zambezi passes through Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

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