As farmers in the Kunene Region continue to feel the effects of the drought that has ravaged the region for the past four years, farmers near Farm Gauas, some 20 kilometres outside Kamanjab, have resorted to sending their cattle to eat grass along the main road.
“We are not having enough rain. Every year we bring our cattle to the roadside so that they can have grass here. There is no more grass left at the farm. When we finish here we will take the cattle to Kamanjab where they will eat grass in an area close to houses,” 28-year old Petty Ulanda, a farm worker near farm Gauas said. Since January, 39 cattle belonging to Ulanda’s employer have been dying because of the drought.
“When there is sufficient rain we don’t bring the animals to the road,” Ulanda added. He further said the drought has affected farmers so badly that they have to buy animal fodder in order for the livestock to survive. “We had a garden where we planted mahangu, pumpkins, water melons and maize but this year we did not plant because we do not have rain. We are still waiting for the rain; maybe it will come,” a concerned Ulanda stated.
Like Ulanda, 53-year-old Johannes Shilula, looks after his employer’s cattle. But Shilula also owns goats. “Government should give us fodder to give to our livestock because the drought is really bad,” commented Shilula, continuing that”the sun is really too much and our animals are dying. We do not know when it will rain. It has been nine months since it really rained and for the past two years we did not get sufficient rains”. Shilula said he lost more than ten goats to the drought this year alone.
“I just came to the side of the road so that my employer’s cattle can eat grass. We are really affected by the drought,” said Shilula. Asked about the possibility of selling some of their livestock as a measure to deal with the drought, Shilula replied, “We can sell but what if the rains come. We will sell few of our livestock but not all”.
On his part, Ulanda commented “We were prohibited from selling our livestock due to the disease (Foot-and-Mouth Disease). The last time that we sold our livestock was in December last year”.
Sharing Shilula’ sentiments, Ulanda said:” Government does not provide farmers with drought relief for their animals”. The councillor of the Opuwo Constituency, Kazeongere Tjeundo, confirmed that people in the Kunene Region are suffering as a result of the dry spells.
“I am requesting government to look into the situation of the people of the Kunene region in terms of resettlement. The people have livestock but they live in an area that has drought. Government cannot watch livestock dying while people have nowhere to go. Drought leads to many other difficulties, such as diseases and malnutrition,” said Tjeundo.