Here comes the water: risk assessments, observation and knowledge of Ompundja village
Van Rooy, Gert
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Floods in Namibia are more pronounced than drought or any other natural disaster. Ompundja village in northern central Namibia has experienced severe flooding over the last decade since the village is a catchment area of water from two distinct sources, that is, the Cuvelai system and the Efundja. Data were collected from households based on an action learning cycle. The cycle starts from context, observation, knowledge and action. A questionnaire based on 14 indicators of the action learning cycle was used to collect the needed information. Answers were recorded on a scale of 1–5, with 1 = not at all and 5 = comprehensively. In terms of the scoring, results indicate that disasters are a common phenomenon in this area. The main contributing factor is not so much of high levels of rainfall but water from the flooding basin. The flooding basin in this regard is mostly the catchment area of water from the two distinct sources, that is, Cuvelai system and the Efundja. In addition, the village also gets flooded because of the poor strategic planning and the lack of resources that would enhance fundamental changes in the livelihood of the local community. For the community to tackle disaster issues, their average score was 3.325. In terms of observation, they scored 3.667. For their involvement in risk assessments, for knowledge (traditional) and for disaster management, the score was 3.25. The same score (3.25) was observed for action and disaster mitigation as well. Based on the findings of this study, it can be concluded that communities struggle to deal with floods whenever they occur. They experience difficulties in obtaining resources as in most cases disaster is mostly viewed as a top-down approach. Communities cannot make their own decisions and in most cases traditional knowledge is discarded. Thus, it is recommended that traditional knowledge should be explored extensively in order for the community to become self-reliant.