UUVUDHIYA – The water level of a natural lake that for decades provided water to thousands of people and their livestock in Uuvudhiya seems to be rapidly and precariously dropping because of the large number of livestock drinking from the lake.
The drying up of the lake, overcrowded by cattle from drought-stricken areas, has caused panic and cattle herders feel they are staring disaster in the face.
At the moment, hundreds if not thousands of farmers from the four northern regions have moved their livestock to Uuvudhiya and villages in constituencies close to Lake Oponona, as the area is not only blessed with this massive natural lake but grass for livestock as well.
It is for this reason that the area around the lake is crowded with thousands of livestock from all over Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Oshana regions.
Inhabitants of a predominantly desert area of Oshana Region said water in the lake is steadily becoming lesser by the day due to the large number of livestock in the area.
Some of the famers in the northern regions have as much as 3 000 cattle per person. Most of the farmers, who have cattle posts in northern Namibia have now moved their livestock to the areas near Uuvudhiya.
Ever since the beginning of the dry season some cattle herders have driven their livestock for distances of up to 30km a day on their way to Lake Oponona as it is the only source water for animals in the area.
Uuvudhiya Constituency Councillor Amutenya gwa Ndahafa who confirmed the worrying water situation in his constituency said although most villages are equipped with government water points, livestock in his constituency is “so many”, making it impossible for cattle to survive on tap water.
“The lake is drying up fast and no more water is sinking down into the soil, it is being drank by cattle and we are worried if we will reach the rainy season because the rate at which the water is disappearing is just too fast,” said tatetekulu Fillipus Gabriel from Eendombe village.
Within a very short period the lake’s watermark has receded by about 500m, according to the villagers.
Villagers are now urging government to have water pumped from the Calueque Dam through the Calueqe-Oshakati canal to be diverted to Lake Oponona, through the existing water streams.
“Decades back, including last year, one would not be standing at this spot where we are standing now, otherwise we would be standing in water. Just look how far the water has dried up. I am worried as to how much water the lake will contain by October,” said tatekulu Shivolo tsha Mwahi (83) a resident of Oponona village.
Lake Oponona in Oshana Region depends on the rains and water flow from the drainage lines for the oshanas of the Cuvelai-Etosha basin which converge near Lake Oponona before flowing into Etosha Pan.
“The suggestion by the farmer, is the best solution and we are going to forward their concerns to the central government,” said Gwa Ndahafa.
By Helvy Shaanika