Khorixas – Farmers who recently attended a meeting at the #Aodaman Traditional Authority offices here have called upon conservancies to auction elephants, so that the proceeds can be used to fight the devastating impact of the drought that has deprived local communities of food.
The meeting was attended by conservancy representatives from Sorri Sorris Conservancy, !Khoro-!Goreb Conservancy and //Huab Conservancy, the Welwitchia Regional Farmers Union and farmers’ associations from Versteende Woud, Braunfels, Kanatseb, Fransfontien and Bergsig area, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
The meeting was initiated by #Aodaman Chief Petrus Ukongo to find ways to keep livestock alive, as most rural communities survive from farming.
More than 70 delegates were asked not to focus the discussion on livestock that had died, but on ways to save the remaining livestock and to mitigate the impact of the drought, as there is great uncertainty over the prospect of rain this season.
The #Aodaman chief also informed those in attendance that one of the farmers incurred a loss of 35 cattle due to drought. “Not protecting our remaining livestock will be suicide,” Ukongo said.
Yvonne !Howaes, a female farmer, who resides in Sorri Sorris area, said quotas given to conservancies to sell elephants for their own use can be used to mitigate the effects of the drought.
“Elephant quotas given to conservancies for own use can benefit farmers,” !Howaes said, as several delegates nodded in agreement. At the meeting it came to light that conservancies are given between one to three elephants for own use.
Juliane Melekie, a member of //Huab Conservancy, concurred, saying conservancies must be involved. “It will be good. We are given elephants for own use and for trophy hunting, so this can possibly be increased.”
Samuel Tsauseb from Welwitchia Regional Farmers Union said farmers residing in conservancies have been severely affected by drought. Traditional authorities were advised to take the lead in supporting this initiative and call for elephants to be sold to assist farmers during periods of sustained drought.
!Howaes and most speakers were concerned about southern Kunene not benefitting from drought assistance and that most help is given to farmers in northern Kunene.
“In Kunene Region we have two parts, but most of the benefits only go to the northern part and support does not come to us. Let’s speak up,” said !Howaes.
Calls were also made not to resettle farmers from outside Kunene, but rather to prioritise those from the region, as they too are affected by the drought.
They further advised the residents of southern Kunene to put their political differences aside and unite to combat the drought, as well as aim for development.
Rhodella Eichas, the chairperson of Sorri Sorris Conservancy, told New Era that elephants broke down a protection wall last month and uprooted a waterpipe. Sorri Sorris Conservancy is said to have lost more than 300 livestock since last year due to drought. Some farmers called for the planting of lucerne and other animal feed at Fransfontien and other farms that have enough water.
Those in attendance included members of the //Khurub #O-#Osib Tsi Om-Khausens !Nans (Drought Emergency and Development Committee).
One Tsauseb was elected as chairperson, deputised by Eichas, while !Howaes, Melekie, Rebecca !Aebes, Mackenzie //Useb, Erwin //Howoseb, a church elder and a farmer, were elected to the committee tasked with tackling with the drought response in Kunene South.
Farmers unions and associations were asked to hold information-sharing sessions to inform younger farmers of the benefits of joining such initiatives. !Ganchab also urged farmers to report and record their dead livestock with the veterinary offices in Khorixas.