By Reagan Malumo
The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the Caprivi Region is making life difficult for parents whose main source of income is cash from livestock sales.
As a result of the outbreak and the subsequent ban on the movement of animals, parents are unable to raise money for school fees ahead of schools opening next week.
Except for a minority working class, nearly 70 percent of the people in Caprivi practice animal husbandry and would have some of their livestock quarantined and later sold to Meatco every January to pay school fees for their children.
Two months ago, the Directorate of Veterinary Services at Katima Mulilo announced the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. It has since banned the movement of cloven-hoofed livestock and livestock products in the region.
This is part of an operation to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease.
Several roadblocks and border patrols were initiated and are still in place.
According to the Senior State Veterinarian of the Directorate of Veterinary Services at Katima Mulilo, Dr Frank Chitate, the closure has to be in place at least three months before an infected area is officially declared free from the
So far, officials cannot say when the ban will be lifted.
“If there were other abattoirs around here to cater for the local market, then we could allow people to quarantine their livestock and sell them but now it is impossible because the available abattoir (Meatco) caters only for exports,” suggested Chitate.
He said his directorate plans to give priority to local traditional slaughters at various designated points in the region but only after they have secured enough facilities and staff to be assigned to those points in order to verify the condition of every beast to be slaughtered.
He said this could be a solution for those who consume red meat. Chitate could not say when the directorate would dispatch teams to these traditional butcheries but confirmed that the delay is a result of staff shortage as most staff are busy in the field and on roadblocks.
He warned that the movement of cattle could worsen the situation and expressed the fear that since the region is approaching the flooding season, further spread of the disease was possible through the migration of livestock that would have to be relocated to higher ground.
Chitate said there is no alternative but to lengthen the closure period and allow the fight against the disease to continue.
Since the outbreak was initially reported in Sesheke, Mwandi and Kasaya areas in Zambia in August last year, it is suspected that the disease spread to Namibia through smuggled cattle.
Meanwhile school registrations are set to begin in a week’s time and most parents are looking for alternative ways to raise school fees for their children.
“I have been selling mangoes on the local market but still I can’t raise the fees for all my children,” said one woman, who only identified herself as a mother of five children who according to her are all attending school.