12 February 2019

Namibia: Rain Brings Relief to Drought-Stricken Farmers

Photo: The Guardian
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WIDESPREAD rain fell across the drought-hit southern parts of the country over the weekend, bringing relief to farmers who had been struggling to cope under the prevailing dry conditions.

Commercial farmer Johan Koen of farm Swartput in the Koes district said he had to transport drinking water from other farms for the past year as underground water had dried up at his farm.

The farmer said he recorded 117 millimetres of rainfall in 24 hours at his farm between Friday and Saturday, and that some farmers in the district had also received rainfall of up to 165 millimetres.

"The earth is wet...it is grace from God," said the visibly delighted farmer.

Koen said the long-overdue rain had, however, caused some damage to the earth dam banks, gravel roads and fences, but in the same vein remarked: "The rain is a godsend...you can repair the damage."

He believes the weekend rain is enough to break much of the drought that had gripped the area, and expressed hope for follow-up rains to end the persistent dry spell.

"The rain has come at the right time to repair everything," he said.

Farmer Lynn Louw (67) estimated that his farm Koopmansvlei in the Koës district had received more than 120 millimetres.

"I am unable to give the exact figure because four of my rain gauges overflowed," he added.

Louw said he had lost 55 sheep to the rain due to drowning and cold, adding that flash floods also damaged gravel roads.

"We are now sitting on an island because our roads have been washed away," he said.

He was, however, not concerned about the loss he suffered because of the rain, but was instead grateful that the dry spell at his farm had been broken.

While some farmers celebrated the rain, others in the Helmeringhausen area said luck was not on their side as they did not get much.

"There is no relief from drought for some of us yet," said Theuns Coetzee, who farms at Soetdoring in the Helmeringhausen district.

According to him, only between 15 and 17 millimetres of rain fell at some farms in the area, while nothing was reported at others.

The Meteorological Services of Namibia's latest figures showed that 65,1 millimetres were recorded at Karasburg in the //Kharas region on Saturday.

Rainfall was also recorded on the same day at Grootfontein (0,7mm), Rundu (11,5mm), Gobabis (0,2mm), Mariental (1,4 mm) and Snyrivier in the south (17,82), according to figures released by weather forecaster Odillo Kgobetsi. Keetmanshoop also experienced torrential downpours, which led to flooding in some parts of the //Kharas region.

//Kharas police reported that the body of 22-year-old Ben Henry Markus was found on Saturday morning after he was swept away by flash floods on Friday night.

Regional crime investigations coordinator Chrispin Mubebo said Markus and seven other people were camping at the Hobas lodge in the /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park near the Fish River Canyon when the floods hit.

Namibia Wildlife Resorts' chief executive officer, Zelna Hengari, confirmed in a statement issued on Saturday that Hobas lodge had experienced flash floods due to overflowing tributaries of the Fish River which caused damage to the office area, restaurant and camping site.

"I can confirm that all our clients are safe. However, it is unfortunate that we lost one of our young staff members from one of our other camps. I want to pass on my condolences to his family, and assure them that they are in our prayers and have our support as a company," she said.

Hengari urged the public to be extra careful when they visit the lodge.

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