Farmers in Otjiu West in the Kunene Region are in agony as they count their livestock loses running into thousands due to recurrent drought that has lasted for almost eight years now.
Seventy-year-old Zariama Koruhama, who was considered the village’s richest man, has lost over 2 000 cattle and is now only left with three.
After losing his cattle, he tried to commit suicide as the drought has robbed him of what amounted to his life’s savings.
“What are three cattle? I am hungry, I have nothing left to feed my family, this is not even my usual body,” said Koruhama as he pointed to his stomach
while describing the aftermath of losing his livestock.
Another villager who lost 99 cattle is only left with one cow and its calf.
The 55-year-old Salatiel Rukuma of the Kaemuvaza Traditional Authority said in some parts of the village the drought has left kraals bare.
But the situation is not very different from the past years, and he fears to lose what is left because the area received minimal rain. There is no grass or water visible in the surroundings and the farmers travel between nine and 11 kilometres to the nearest streams for water.
“But how many times can you take malnutritioned livestock over such long distances,” queried Rukuma.
The situation at Otjiu is similar to many other parts in Kunene.
Hiamavere Mbinge’s kraal at Oruvandjai is completely empty and these days he merely sits in the sun, carving a piece of wood while staring at his empty kraal. At Arizona Ombaueyo cattle post, farmers said cattle died like flies during August last year.
But there is bit of relief because the area has received some rain, related Amon Kapi who lost about 40 cattle.
At Ombombo, Teopard Nderura lost over 24 cattle. A fellow villager Daniel Kavetu, a senior traditional councillor of the Vita Royal House, said he could not recall how many livestock he has lost.
“But I see the difference in my kraal. The cattle just go missing and their carcasses are later discovered in the mountains,” said Kavetu.
Kavetu said this year’s rains would not make any difference because it started raining late. Farmers in Kunene heavily rely on their livestock for a living.