Lifeline for the Okavango as floods expected to reach Maun by mid-May

The Department of Water Affairs Hydrologist in Maun, Baemedi Letsholathebe has estimated that floodwaters will reach Maun mid to end of May.

However, he stated in an interview with Botswana Safari News that the floods may be earlier depending on other factors. He explained that Thamalakane is flooded by a backflow push from Gomoti and Boro Rivers. So the Thamalakane flow also depends on how far Gomoti River is at the time of the interview. Letsholathebe said while they are certain Thamalakane will get some water they couldn’t confirm if it would get a full flood, stressing only time would tell.

Mohembo water levels continue to surge

Water levels at the Department of Water Affairs at Mohembo station reportedly continue to rise. On April 13 the water rose to 3,035 metres towards the 3,350 metres mark. Authorities fear that if water reaches the 3,350 metres maximum it may cause flooding in the area but it’s said to be approaching it. 

By last Wednesday, floodwaters had passed Mma Mokhutshwane Island (Khuti) between Ivory Camp (the old hunting camp) and DRC in Boro. The water was expected to reach DRC within a week on its way to Thamalakane River. At this rate, it will reach Maun at the end of this month or thereabouts.

Something to look forward to post-COVID-19

With the whole world, including Botswana currently grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to overlook good news. Last week, social media platforms were abuzz with news of the Okavango Delta’s 2020 floods.

After the poor showing of the past five years, the nation is rejoicing at the promise of the best flood we’ve seen for a while. Angola, from where the Okavango Delta receives its water, has reportedly enjoyed a huge amount of rain in recent months. This has resulted in the water levels in the Okavango River rapidly rising, with a lot more still expected to come.

This year’s flood levels are at their highest at this time of year compared to the past 5 years, the flood table provided by Hydrology Namibia has shown. These measurements are taken at their measuring station at Rundu just before the Okavango River flows into Botswana. The Okavango needs high floods this year to compensate for last year’s terribly low floods.

On the 17th Feb 2020, the water level sat at 6.60m in Rundu, a great improvement from last year’s 4.96m. The average per year is 5.38m.

This time last year, the drying up of the Okavango Delta became a topical issue among Ngamiland communities as well as tour operators. In the absence of good rains, the water levels fell to an all-time low. There was hope the situation would recover around July with the inflow from Mohembo River, where the river enters Botswana from Angola. People pinned their hopes on the fact the Mohembo floods generally occur between mid-March and mid-May, just after the local summer rains in the delta region, and the delta is at its fullest in July/August. But that was not to be, with Botswana rivers ending the year on one of the driest spells the country has ever experienced. Inevitably, countless animals such as hippos, crocodiles and cattle perished amidst dwindling water and food shortages.

The delta is one of the most popular holiday destinations for visitors to the country, while some rural communities depend on it for survival. So while the country is currently under lockdown and not receiving any new visitors, there’s at least hope that once the fog clears, there’ll be something of the stunning Okavango Delta for  the friends of Botswana who can afford to travel to look forward. 

Reference: Botswana Safari News via Facebook

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