Residents of Omungunda village in Opuwo constituency of Kunene region are concerned about the severe drought killing their livestock on a daily basis, saying they feel like committing suicide when they lose their animals.
Jakurupa Mbanguha, 36, a resident of Omungunda village west of Opuwo narrated to journalists on Tuesday afternoon that he has personally lost about 100 head of cattle due to drought since the beginning of last year.
“When cattle die you feel like committing suicide. It is like losing a person because we depend on them,” said Mbanguha.
He said he has invested a lot of money to buy animal feed and medicine for his cattle but he is not making a profit from them.
Mbanguha said he started making a living from cattle since he was young but his livelihood has been affected by recurrent droughts.
Since 2010, the Kunene region has been receiving poor rainfall that has resulted in insufficient crop yields and limited water for people and livestock.
Other villagers who also spoke to the journalist said they cannot eat the meat when their animals die because the meat from the cattle killed by drought is tasteless.
“The carcasses are all over the place. Even the dogs don’t eat the meat anymore, because it has become a lot now,” said the village headman Josef Mbanguha.
Mbanguha said that they moved from their home village Etanga to Omungunda for grazing purposes but their animals are still dying.
“Now we cannot move any where because there are conflicts everywhere. People do not want us to graze in their areas. There are even cases of people who shot one another after they took their animals to Sesfontein for grazing purposes from Etanga village,” said the village headman.
The headman said normally their animals used to graze in the fields but now they started grazing in the mountains, which are also dry.
“Cattle are dying like flies but goats can resist the drought because they can adapt to dry conditions,” he said.
The chief further urged the government to speed up drought food distribution because the exercise “is too slow”.
He said normally they receive food after two months. “Imagine, we receive food for children and elderly people but only maize meal and cooking oil without any meat,” he said.
Mariru Mbanguha a daughter of the headman said she now only has four cattle and she mostly survives from her crops, which have however been severely affected by the dry spell.
“We women normally don’t have cattle, the only source of survival is our crops but since there is drought we find it hard to feed our families,” said Mariru.
She pleaded with the government to increase the maize meal to at least four bags because now they only receive one bag per person.
According to the latest results from the post-harvest crop assessment of the agriculture ministry and the vulnerability assessment conducted in June the country faces the worst crop yield in eight years.