Namibia: Veld Fires Across the Country Becoming a Serious Concern - Minister

The frequency and extent of veld fires since the start of the fire season has become a serious concern, despite continued calls to the public to prevent the occurrence and spread of fires, the Ministry of Environment stated this week.

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, Tuesday told cabinet that from 23 to 30 September alone, a total of 42 veld fires were reported in the country.

According to Shifeta, from January to October the following regions were massively affected; 220,100 hectare (ha) of veld was destroyed in the Zambezi; Kavango East (635,900 ha); Kavango West (181,700 ha); Ohangwena (8900 ha); Omusati (23,800 ha); Oshana (12,200 ha) Oshikoto (86,800 ha); Kunene (10,100 ha); Otjozondjupa (875,400 ha); Omaheke (161,100 ha) and 2000 ha in Khomas region.

"This presents a massive damage to our environment and reason for all Namibians to be concerned," he said.

Shifeta said prior to the start of the fire season, the ministry developed a robust fire management strategy to prevent, detect and suppress fires.

"The Ministry, has gone further to sensitize members of the public on the dangers, preventive measures and suppression techniques for fires using public platforms such as radio, newspapers, television and social media," he added.

Shifeta meanwhile appealed to the public, landowners and other stakeholders to take collective responsibility in managing fire during this year's fire season.

"There is a high volume of biomass present across the country due to the good rains received earlier this year and this makes this year particularly dangerous for veld fires," he said, adding that he recognizes the importance of fire in people's livelihoods, particularly for cooking and for heating, however, all citizens must utilize fire responsibly.

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