WINDHOEK – Some communal farmers in Kunene are likely to lose animals they solely depend on for their livelihoods, as the drought takes its toll on livestock in some parts of the region.
Kunene is one of the regions worst affected by the drought sweeping across the country since late 2011 and that has left many animals dead due to lack of grazing and insufficient water.
Kunene Regional Governor, Joshua //Hoebeb has described the situation as serious and likely to worsen in the next three months if farmers do not sell off their older livestock to save them from starvation.
“This is a very serious drought. Livestock conditions are very bad. There are deaths reported here and there although we don’t have official figures yet, because people don’t come out and report these deaths. The strong showers we received in the southern part of Kunene in the Khorixas area during March and April last year is also being cancelled out due to the 2014/15 drought,” he says.
Sesfontein, Opuwo, Epupa and Khorixas constituencies are effected the most.
//Hoebeb is appealing to affected communities to sell their livestock, which will cushion them from hardship and use proceeds from livestock auctions to buy food.
“We advocate for farmers to sell older livestock and put some money in their pocket. If they wait for three to four months from now, then their livestock will perish more of drought. We should sell the older ones and keep the younger ones. Farmers are looking at us as leaders for solutions to save their livestock. They are desperate and need assistance from government and also from the business community,” advises the regional governor.
The most immediate consequence of drought in most regions across Namibia is a fall in crop production, due to inadequate and poorly distributed rainfall.
//Hoebeb has requested the Office of the Prime Minister through its Disaster Risk Management Unit to continue providing affected communities with drought relief food, saying, “Even if good rains fall, it will not improve the situation of crop production in the region.”
After the 2011 severe drought, government allocated N$32 million for drought relief in the Kunene Region, while N$14 million was set aside for the drilling of at least 30 boreholes in the region.
In 2012, government introduced a livestock marketing incentive scheme to reduce pressure on grazing of which N$2 million was made available.
Some farmers made use of the scheme, but many refused to let go of their livestock, which resulted in several deaths and animal deterioration.