Cabinet has authorised a six-point emergency plan of N$157 million to curtail the outbreak of the foot-and-mouth disease in northern Namibia, which government has declared as national emergency.
Minister of Agriculture Water and Forestry (MAWF) John Mutorwa yesterday said N$112 million would be spent on vaccine while N$3.4 million will go towards vaccination equipment. A further N$12 million will be paid to staff in overtime, Mutorwa announced.
“All movements of livestock in and out of surveillance zones are suspended till further notice,” said the minister.
State veterinarians would be conducting intensive livestock inspection on animals on farms. Movement of cattle, goats, sheep and pigs – for weddings, funerals and home slaughter – would be allowed for direct slaughter within 24 hours of movement under veterinary supervision.
Temporary roadblocks have been erected along all main roads to control the movement of cattle to other areas. Cars are being sprayed and disinfected, the minister further said.
Farmers are advised to prevent their livestock to get into contact with animals from contaminated areas and to put on clean clothes when moving from affected areas to other areas. Fresh milk should also be boiled. Fresh milk, meat, thatch grass, hay, straw, crop residues may be moved into and within affected and containment areas but they would not be allowed to move out of those areas.
Movement of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and wild animal from the foot-and-mouth disease free zone through containment areas for export to Angola may only be permitted under Red Cross permit in sealed vehicles.
The infected areas are the entire Ohangwena Region and all constituencies of Omusati Region. In Oshikoto Region infection is in the constituencies of Okankolo, Onyaanya, Omuthiya, Eengodi, Onayena, Oniipa. In Oshana Region the infection is in the constituencies of Ondangwa, Okaku, Ongwediva, Oshakati East and West, Okatana, and Ohangwena. Mpungu in Kavango is also categorised as an infected area.
The containment area is a line along the B1 road from Oshivelo to Oshikango border post, then from Oshivelo to Bravo Gate, from Bravo Gate via Mpungu Vlei to Katwitwi border post and the Namibian/Angolan border post.
Mutorwa described the outbreak, the biggest in 40 years, as a ‘national emergency.’
Acting director of Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) Dr John Shoopala says the disease is spreading rapidly in a westerly direction and it is impossible to even estimate how many of the somewhat 1.2 million cattle in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) have been affected.
“This is a national crisis and we are dealing with it as a matter of life and death as FMD is the most contagious of al animal disease,” he told New Era.
Cabinet has also made it clear that animal control fences between Namibia and Angola is the only permanent solution to containing and eventually wiping out FMD in Namibia. Cabinet reached this decision after it was confirmed that the latest outbreak of FMD has its origin from Namibian animals grazing in Angola or cattle that came in contact with animals from Angola between May 12 and May 13.
The Meat Board of Namibia confirmed a donation of N$6 million towards the fight against the disease, while the DVS confirmed that 500 000 doses of vaccine from Botswana are expected in the country today. Ultimately, some 1.2 million doses will be required to vaccinate all cattle in the NCAs.
The outbreak threatens to bring Namibia’s beef industry, which is worth some N$1.4 billion annually, to its knees.
To combat the disease, Cabinet has called on the ministries of Environment and Tourism, Defense and Safety and Security to mobilise all resources within their budget allocations to help in the fight against FMD.