21 Jul 2015 08:10am
By Francois Lottering
OTUANI, 21 JUL (NAMPA) - If Government does not intervene faster, hundreds of livestock might die because of the severity of the drought currently experienced in the Kunene Region.
Without urgent assistance, the drought would leave many livestock farmers without an income and as a result push their families into total poverty because livestock farming is the backbone of the OvaHimba community in this vast and remote area.
Opuwo Constituency Councillor from the Otuani village, Tjiumbua Ellie Uaturumika said their area did not receive significant rain for the past few years.
Sitting in the early winter morning sun, dressed in khaki uniform, Uaturumika sketches the daily hardship his people and their animals experience due to the drought.
The Otuani village is situated about 70 kilometres southwest of Opuwo and is home to about 300 people.
Despite being unable to say exactly when last they received proper rainfall in the area, the councillor's facial expressions are that of concern as the community looks up to him and Government for assistance to save them and their livestock from the drought that does not discriminate between man, animal and nature.
We are suffering due the drought - cattle are dying and people do not have enough to eat, Uaturumika said.
Grazing his eyes over the area, this reporter sees and feels the drought little or no grass over many kilometres of this vast area. The animals bundle together to get some shade from the few, almost bare, trees.
I appeal to Government to assist us with food, to assist the community of Otuani with food, Uaturumika lamented.
The situation there has reached a point where about 130 children staying in the hostel at the Musaso Senior Primary School are sent home over weekends, as the food is hardly enough to feed them during the week.
Many of the children stay up to 15km away from the school and walk there and back.
Walking through the village, one can sense an atmosphere of despair, desperation and a weak pulse of life as goats roam the dry football field looking for something to graze on.
A man-made dam some 100 metres away from the football field is empty and the few pieces of greenery in the area are inedible for man and animal.
However, the Governor of the Kunene Region, Angelika Muharukua, told this agency on enquiry that the distribution of food aid is taking place, albeit at a slow pace.
Meanwhile, mobile phone reception is non-existent here and the village is connected to the rest of the world only via landline; a network available to only a few people who own landline telephones.
Uaturumika said that despite the availability of electricity, mobile phones are of no use here, and in cases of emergency there is little they can do.
We network here so we can communicate with people outside our village; we are suffering to ask the government to help us to get onto the network, he stressed.
A little ray of sunshine came in the form of a new clinic, which opened earlier this year. The clinic is manned by a handful of nurses and stands as a beacon of hope for the community.
This clinic helps us a lot, as many people get their health assistance from that clinic, said Uaturumika.
He commended the government for the clinic, adding that in the past, people had to go to Opuwo for medial help.
Departing from one of Namibias many vast, undeveloped and sparsely populated areas, the imagination runs wild visualising the many possibilities of development but the subtle beat of the heart reminds that imagination of how members of the village are forced to adapt to the unpredictable patterns of weather that leaves them desperate for Governments intervention.