On 17 June Namibia was among many countries who celebrated World Day to Combat Desertification. This year, the theme was 'drought and water scarcity' and the event took place in Ovitoto settlement situated between Okahandja and Midgard in the Otjozondjupa Region.
The residents of this area focus mainly on smallstock farming and cattle as their main source of sustenance and income. The rangeland that forms part of the Ovitoto communal area is visibly degraded when compared to the surrounding commercial farms.
Ovitoto residents also have the tendency to establish temporary abodes whenever the move further away from the two main settlements in search of grazing. The veld around these temporary station is also severely degraded.
Ovitoto residents are faced with severe challenges to cope with inevitable droughts while desertification is becoming increasingly evident. "Issues such as water scarcity and drought all have an effect on desertification hence there is need to educate our communities of preserving their land in order for it not to turn into a desert," Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon John Mutorwa, informed the gathering. He said overgrazing and soil erosion also contribute to desertification of an area and urged the Ovitoto community to do their utmost to protect their environment.
Echoing Mutorwa's sentiments, the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon Uahekua Herunga, said issues of desertification are critical due to the current drought situation. "Challenges still face our country with regard to finding lasting solutions to combat desertification. Solutions are needed to prevent this pandemic from occurring," Uahekua said.
The minister said Ovitoto was chosen to host the event as it did not show good results when assessed on farming activities. "Ovitoto needs to learn good practices from other communities such as Gibeon and Opuwo and get examples of what other communities are doing to combat desertification in their areas," said Uahekua.
Ovitoto is the birth place of several prominent Namibians such as the Professor Peter Katjavivi, the late musician Jackson Kaujeua and late Moses Tjitendero.