No Let-up For Livestock Owners In Harsh Drought

07 Mar 2016 07:50am
By Isabella Bento

ONAWA, 07 MAR (NAMPA) – Things seems to be going from bad to worse for livestock owners at Onawa – one of many villages around Namibia in the grip of one of the worst droughts to hit the country in 30 years.
Their fields are dry and crops have wilted due to the lack of rain, while many goats and cattle have succumbed to starvation.
As the drought became increasingly worse, the livestock owners at first bought fodder to try and keep their starving livestock alive, but when that became too expensive, they started feeding the animals carton which they got free from local shops.
Now even that solution is slowly slipping from their reach as local shop owners, spotting a business opportunity, have started charging for the boxes they used to discard.
Lavinia Naftal is one of the people affected by the drought at Onawa village, situated just outside Ongwediva in the Oshana Region.
“We are very disappointed because all the effort and money we put into our fields seem to have gone to waste,” she tells Nampa in a recent interview.
Some farmers say they have relocated their livestock to other villages that seemed to have a bit of grazing left, but that was not enough.
“I also used to buy Leucaena grass for my livestock but it became too expensive as the entire household lives on my pension of N.dollars 1 000,” Naftal says.
Naftal has already lost two heads of cattle and a calf. The rest do not look like they will make it as they are not able to walk on their own.
“The few goats I have left I feed on palm leaves. I ensure that I cut enough branches to be able to sustain them the whole day,” she explains.
For added nutrition, the palm leaves are dipped in salt water before being fed to the animals.
Another farmer, Benedictus Kambala has lost three of his seven cattle.
“I brought my cattle here from Okalongo (Omusati Region) for grazing but it was already too late. The lack of food had taken its toll and they died one after the other,” a sad Kambala says.
He talks about how he and other farmers have resorted to feeding their cattle boxes, which are torn into more manageable sizes and wet with water before being fed to the cattle.
“I collect boxes from grocery shops and business owners, but this has also become difficult because we now have to buy it,” Kambala says.
Water for the livestock is another problem.
“We are forced to get water from taps for the animals to drink but this is not working out very well as it just leads to high water bills from the municipality. My entire pension for last month was spent on the water bill.
“It is saddening as we are a household of over 15 people and we sometimes only survive on two bags of maize meal from the drought relief programme,” he said, referring to Government’s drought relief programme which provides food aid through the Disaster Risk Management Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said last week that more than 600 000 people in various regions are currently dependant on drought relief aid, which involves the distribution of maize meal and various types of relish.