Omaheke farmers lose cattle, face starvation due to drought

OKOMUNGONDO: Farmers in Okomungondo and surrounding villages in the Omaheke Region have suffered significant losses, with more than 100 cattle succumbing to the severe drought between September and December in the area.

Communal farmers in the region are grappling with the harsh effects of the erratic rainy season, witnessing a substantial number of deaths among their livestock due to the scarcity of grazing.

During a recent visit to the village situated in the Aminuis Constituency, farmers expressed concerns about the dire situation, saying the local population is facing starvation. The heavy reliance on cattle for various needs has exacerbated the crisis.

Farmers also reported receiving meagre drought relief assistance from the government, consisting of just one bag of maize meal, four tins of fish, and a bottle of cooking oil handed over to them at the beginning of this month.

Koonene Tjikundisa, a farmer in Otjozonguehe, said the only hope for the community lies in their pension and sporadic governmen
t subsidies. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the reliability of the subsidies, stating that they have only received assistance once since the beginning of the drought in April.

‘The prices of our livestock are another significant problem. We are not getting favourable prices, and the weight of the livestock has drastically decreased. Despite these challenges, we have no choice but to take our livestock to market, as there are no alternative options. It’s like discarding our livestock,’ Tjikundisa remarked.

Responding to inquiries, the regional constituency councillor, Peter Kazongominja, acknowledged the challenges faced by farmers and gave his assurance that efforts are being made to provide assistance.

‘The government has declared drought as an emergency and availed resources to help fight against drought in the country. There is nothing we can do but wait for the right offices to bring these resources to our farmers to help them,’ Kazongominja explained.

Asked about the prospects for rain in the
area, chief forecaster of the Namibia Meteorological Service, Odillo Kgobetsi, indicated that Omaheke is expected to receive light rain in the next two weeks. However, he emphasised that dry conditions are likely to persist in the interior, with a possibility of rain ranging from 30 to 50 per cent over parts of the Omaheke Region, Kavango West, Kavango East, Zambezi and Tsumkwe on Thursday and Friday.

‘Omaheke should thus expect some rain going into the weekend,’ he said.
Source: Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA)