11 March 2013

Namibia: Stricken Community Wants Assistance

Okombahe — The !Oë‡gân Traditional Authority in the Dâures Constituency of the Erongo Region has appealed to government to subsidise feed for their animals during the current drought.

"We are advised to sell our animals but who will buy animals in that state?" said the Vice Chief of the !Oë‡gân Traditional Authority, Stanislaus /Kheib.

According to /Kheib, buyers are taking advantage of the situation by paying very little for the animals because of their poor condition.

The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, recently advised farmers in drought-stricken areas to consider selling their livestock before their further deterioration or even loss of the livestock.

"Government should really look at subsidising animal supplements as they do with fish and maize meal that they give to people," the vice chief told New Era.

/Kheib said selling the animals in such a bad condition is equal to letting them die, "if you look at the prices we get for the animals".

"It is better to give supplements to the animals so that their condition can improve and then we sell them. We are not asking for free supplements but that government meets us halfway in these trying times," he pleaded.

Most of the people living in the constituency are dependent on farming for their livelihood, as formal employment opportunities are very scarce.

/Kheib said there is good grazing in some areas in the constituency but in most cases there is neither water nor boreholes, hence people are concentrated in some areas which have water, causing overgrazing. The vice chief said most of the underground water sources in the area are almost depleted and people are trekking long distances to give their animals water on a daily basis. At least 24 farms in the area are affected by the water scarcity and residents have to travel at least 3km to 5 km daily to ensure their animals get water to drink, especially the small stock.

/Kheib alleged that sometimes water tanks are taken in for repair by government officials but are in most cases never returned or fixed.

The vice chief is appealing to the German Special Initiative to drill boreholes for the community, as it does not help to have livestock and no water resources, as is currently the case.

Farmers with a lot of animals are especially hard hit by the current drought.

A farmer at Rooi Pos, Edward /Kheib, said government officials from the agriculture ministry recently visited the community and cleaned their borehole but they still have to "bring pipes and cylinders".

"That is the situation, let them please give us drought relief in the meantime. Our animals don't have food and we don't have food," Edward /Kheib said.

Another farmer at Rooi Pos, Enid Ganases, said several of her animals had already died.

"The situation is bad. We have little water and our animals are dying," Ganases added.

Rains have not been good in all parts of the country so far this rainy season, indicating a serious drought for the country, as well as the rest of the Southern African region.

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