Windhoek — Veld fires are menacing residents of the Otjombinde Constituency in the Omaheke Region after ten livestock, including goats, horses and donkeys died in veld fires since last week.
The fires, which have been raging since last week Friday have damaged 12 000 hectares of grazing land according to Otjombinde Constituency Councillor, Karii Marenga.
"We have not been able to extinguish the fires since and staff of the forestry, together with about 18 members of the community are currently battling to bring the fires under control," said Marenga. The councillor estimated that about 12 villages could be affected by the fires and fears that the number of livestock lost could be more, although this can only be established once the fires have been brought under control. Marenga said soldiers based at or near Gobabis have come to assist the communities at Donker Pos, Uanivi Pos and Matjirokua villages among others.
"We do not know the origins of the fires, however we sensitize the communities about veld fires every year," he complained, adding that the fires have been occurring annually for the past couple of years just before the rainy season. The councillor complained that since no one is ever held accountable for the veld fires, one can sense resignation among members of the community, since they do not communicate to authorities about the cause of the fires.
"There is a cause, but we do not know what it is," he observed.
"The ministry [of Agriculture] visited us last year to report on drought relief for our farmers, but no one came back with assistance," he complained. Marenga said there is an urgent need for drought relief from government, as well as active sensitization campaigns about veld fires in the area. Employees of the agriculture ministry at Otjombinde were not available for comment by the time of going to print, since everyone had gone out to help to extinguish the fires.