Floods can have a devastating impact on not only the environment but the people, infrastructure and local economy too. Interestingly, it’s not all bad and annual flooding has many benefits. There are fewer places on Earth where this delicate balance is more visible than in the Zambezi River Basin.

For about three to four months of the year, during the rainy summer season, the usually dry plains of Simalaha Community Conservancy transform into a shimmering wetland as the Zambezi River bursts its banks. Creating a confluence with runoff from the Zambian highlands, crystal clear water fills the Simalaha floodplains.

Although necessary for rejuvenating the groundwater and soils, this annual phenomenon poses quite a few difficulties and challenges. Simalaha Project Manager for Peace Parks Foundation, Ian Middleton, takes us along to see the extent of the flooding in the area.

First, we follow along the buffalo sanctuary fence, which borders one of the main roads. Here, Ian meets up with senior scout Matthew Silowezi, who has been tracking the levels and movements of a local river in the area over the past couple of days. Matthew explains that the river that is visible behind him in the video has rapidly moved 5km downstream to where he saw it the day before. From here, it will soon merge with the Zambezi River.

Unfortunately, the rapid rise of water levels and years of more intense flooding poses a greater risk to the communities lying within the Zambezi River Basin. Although large floods can often result in damage to infrastructures such as roads and villages, as well as flooding crops and drowning livestock, they do however play an important part in restoring groundwater and depositing minerals back into the soil. You can read more about it here.

Peace Parks Foundation is thankful to have boots on the ground that can keep an eye on the river’s movements and water levels. This helps the local community to prepare for any possible flooding in advance and mitigate the risk of damage.