alternative tourism in the North

Rain? I’ve complained a lot about it. Last weekend we’ve discovered the other side of the coin with an activity of which I would have never thought about it before: canoeing on the Oshanas next to Oshakati. Patrick let his connections in the water purification business play and managed to borrow two two-seater canoes from a friend. Our original idea was to have a small ‘test drive’ in the morning to see how we would manage before we would do the real thing on one of the bigger Oshanas in the North-West fed from the Angolan creeks. At the end we did 10km (bee-line). Despite the low water depth (20-70cm) it worked out quite well. Only the stretches with grass and ‘sand banks’ had been a tough one for boat Nr. 2 with Lindsey and myself as we didn’t want to get out of the canoe to pull it (bilharziosis?).

Calm before the storm?

Around 70 of our 284 schools are closed since last week due to the impact of the rain the Omusati Region (west of Ogongo) received so far. The main reason for the closing is not that the school premises are flooded. The problem is that the schools are hard to reach for the learners which often have to walk huge distances. The government is not concerned about wet shoes. Learners had been drowned on the way to the schools during previous floods.
For the last couple of days the weather has changed: non-stop sun shine and rising temperatures have brought down the water level noticeable. However rainy season is not yet over. Locals say it will most likely start fiercely to rain again next month. Even by this time the biggest threat for the North is still to come: the torrent of water coming from the Angolan rivers. Already now the basin at the Ruacana dam is filled quite well.

lunch break stories: the swimming pool is back again

time to make the rubber boat ready again, Directorate of Education Regional Office, OutapiDuring the last two nights Outapi received quite some heavy showers. I’ve been talking to people and everyone says that it is quite unusual to have such intense rain during the ‘small rainy’ season. Hopefully the thing stops soon otherwise we will have a tough next year: as mentioned in one of the previous posts many Oshanas are still filled with water which means that the capacity of the terrain to absorb new water is still limited. The same goes for the drainage system that had been installed last year at our parking space outside the office: basically not working at all as the picture shows.

lunch break stories: what rain and a ISDN handset have in common…

junction to Okahao, Oshakati…you don’t expect both of them. Last week the North received some heavy rain and a sharp drop of the temperature after months of drought and heat. Some say that this is already the beginning of the ‘small’ rainy season which usually starts by the end of November. Although happy for the clean, cool air and a whole day without sun it brings back flooding memories from this years rainy season – you still find Oshanas filled with water which is exceptional at this time of the year.Siemens optiPoint 500, DoE ICT office, Outapi
The other surprise came in shape of an Siemens ISDN handset with a working display to our office. Thanks to a new PBX which made one of the few ISDN phones at the reception redundant.
Happy like Xmas: as it is NOT common for a caller within the government to tell the name when calling I always had to play a ‘guess game’. Unfortunately our Director and her Deputy had also been in – due to that I had them on the line several times without realizing it, ouch.

Bye rainy season…

Till two weeks ago the North has received steady rain and water coming from Angola since the beginning of the rainy season a couple of months ago. The outcome had even been worse than the flooding from 2008, officials are speaking of the ‘heaviest floods ever recorded’: thousands of people had to be evacuated and a great deal of everyday life came to a stop in the Region during the last month. Most of the schools closed down as it had become too dangerous for the learners to walk to the schools. Against all wisdom some decided not. Two weeks ago a NDF (Namibian defense force) boat bringing learners over a river capsized in the Oshikoto Region – one learner and a soldier drowned. Just the tip of the iceberg: dozens of people drown every rainy season as just a few are able to swim. Hard to believe when you see the dust-dry Northern landscape in a few months.
When the water level reached it’s high Adrian from VSO and I went to the main bridge between Oshakati and Ongwediva to watch the crowd. Have a look at the stunning pictures he took. Some of them had been published in the Namibian.