Namibia: Drought Relief Fodder Left to Rot

15 January 2020

Omuthiya — Drought relief fodder stored at the Oshikoto regional council has been spoiled by the recent good rains, as some registered farmers seemingly abandoned the programme.

The situation is further exacerbated by transport complications, thus hindering the distribution committee from allotting more fodder to other constituencies. The committee chairperson, Izak Nghaamwa, acknowledged the situation, saying it was disheartening for other farmers who did not make it to the beneficiary list.

According to Nghaamwa, some farmers are now showing less interest in collecting the fodder, as they feel the good rainfall has resulted in sufficient grass for their livestock.

"Some farmers are refusing to collect the bales because they feel the livestock now have enough grass due to rain, while only a handful are still collecting. Just recently, I had to stop another truck, which intended to come deliver grass, because there is no point, as it will get wasted. We will wait until then when there is interest again," he said. In addition, he said, the bales of grass cannot be distributed at the moment, as council is unable to utilise the Namibian Defence Force truck due to damaged tyres.

The regional council said it does not have money to purchase new tyres. "We can't force the driver if he says the tyres are not in good shape, so we will wait until the situation is resolved, then we start distributing. For now, we will just hopelessly watch as it gets spoiled, as our hands are tied," he reiterated. In May last year, President Hage Geingob declared the drought situation an emergency due to the massive impact, which has claimed thousands of livestock.

As a result, the Office of the Prime Minister had to avail N$573 million towards the drought assistance fund, which was supplemented by additional millions in donations from individuals and other stakeholders.

Government criteria dictates that farmers who have 26 large stock units of cattle and 130 small stock unit, including goats and sheep, qualify to benefit from the fodder given for livestock support. The program has been extended until April. There are about 23 beneficiaries per constituency; however, Tsumeb, Guinas and Nehale Lya Mpingana did not leverage much from the programme. This is because Tsumeb and part of Guinas falls beyond the veterinary cordon fence.

This means grass cannot be transported from Omuthiya to the other side of the red line. With regard to Lya Mpingana, the efforts were made difficult due to the location of the constituency office, which is situated in the remote areas.

"People are very far from the constituency office in Lya Mpingana; as a result, only about 15 were able to benefit, while in Guinas, only three that fall north of the red line," said Nghaamwa.

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