10 January 2017

Namibia: Communal Farmers Upbeat Over Rains

Communal farmers around Keetmanshoop are optimistic that more rain will fall over the next months, which they hope will bring an end to what they described as a very difficult period.

Farmers New Era spoke to are positive over the rain prospects, saying the signs have been encouraging since the beginning of the year when they received good rains, with some parts receiving up to 50 mm of rain and they are thus confident that more showers are to come.

The farmers indicated grazing areas have already started to recover and more rain over the next months should see a full recovery and an end to the drought they have faced for years.

One of the farmers, Jaques Haack, told New Era many farmers have lost their animals over the years to the persistent drought, and with good rains received so far many farmers are upbeat that this will be a good year and their animals will not die from the lack of grass.

"We received good rains so far and it's very encouraging - the pastures are getting greener and we are hopeful that this is just the beginning and more is still to come," Haack said.

Although optimistic on the rain prospects, Haack pleaded with the government to be ready to assist farmers should the drought continue this year, saying none of the farmers have been assisted by the government over the years, which he said resulted in huge losses of livestock.

He explained that most farmers feel left out compared to farmers in the north whom they feel get constant support from the government.

"The things we hear happening in the north don't come here - all these years we have battled with drought but we never got assistance from the government. We had to struggle on our own to keep our animals alive," he said.

Another farmer Johannes Swartbooi echoed Haack's sentiments, saying many farmers can't afford to buy animal feed and government has not given them any form of assistance during the years of drought, except for the bags of maize and tins of fish which they receive through the drought relief programme.

He thus pleaded for assistance from government, indicating that in case the rain is not good enough, the government should be ready to lend a helping hand to farmers.

"If the government can just provide us with fodder to keep our animals alive during the dry period until we receive some rain so that our our animals won't die like flies," he said.

Residents of Kameel Revier and Synfontein, north-west of Keetmanhoop, further complained of the lack of proper ablution facilities and potable water, saying for many years people have been using bushes when nature calls, while the water they use "is not fit for human consumption".

They claim that the water they get from the boreholes is very dirty and only fit for animals but they are forced to drink it as they don't have a choice, and this results in running stomachs for many.

The residents also claim that they have reported the problem to the relevant authorities but nothing has ever been done.

"The things have been written down over and over by other people, but nothing has happened - it's no use you writing this down, what will you do?" asked a frustrated resident.

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