Outjo — Kunene Regional Governor Joshua //Hoëbeb is alarmed by the prevailing drought conditions following erratic rainfall in the region this year.
//Hoëbeb says the situation is threatening many rural communities that depend mainly on rain-fed agriculture.
"Things have gone from bad to worse," emphasized the headman of Ondoro, a village on the outskirts of Opuwo, Likius Kujambera.
He warned that more people face food shortages in the villages, not only because of the drought but their crops were destroyed early in the year as well. According to him, poor rains early in the year that saw the total failure of most crops in the villages, have imperiled the livelihoods of many subsistence farmers.
Kujambera says the region is facing a severe shortage of maize, the staple food.
"The magnitude, frequency, and impact of these events have recently increased," he explained.
"The poor and many vulnerable people have been hit particularly hard and we urgently need assistance from government," he said. He also claimed that the rain they received this year destroyed their maize.
"All our crops were destroyed - everywhere you look the fields of millet have turned completely yellow and dried out and we are also concerned that our cattle will die," Kujambera said.
"Communities face an uncertain future with longer and more severe spells of drought in parts of the Kunene Region," the governor admitted.
He told New Era in an exclusive interview that the situation has been exacerbated by the low rainfall received in most parts of the region, adding that the threats were potent and real.
Another challenge confronting the region is water, especially in Opuwo.
"The quality of the water is very good. However, the quantity leaves much to be desired. Therefore, we need to look at the sustainable use of water and explore alternative sources of water," he said.
According to //Hoëbeb, Opuwo gets water from boreholes.
He expressed the wish that one day, water from the Kunene River would benefit citizens and by so doing solve the water problem once and for all.
"I believe that without sufficient water this town cannot grow and economic activity will be compromised, " he said.
//Hoëbeb also expressed the wish that an amicable solution to the hydro-electric power station problem would be found to solve the water crisis in the region.
The situation is the same in many parts of the remote north-western region. Fields have turned yellow and fallow, while villagers whose livelihoods depend on maize as a staple food have basically abandoned their fields and are bracing themselves for the hard times ahead.