Kunene’s drought-stricken villagers move into Opuwo town

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Alvine Kapitako

Opuwo-The drought that has ravaged the Kunene Region for at least seven consecutive years now, continues to affect communities in the region who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and have since started moving into the regional capital, Opuwo.

Because of the poor rains, animals have died, resulting in many people leaving their villages for supposed “greener pastures” in town.

The Mayor of Opuwo, Albert Tjiuma, told New Era last week that many farmers who survived on their animals have migrated to Opuwo where they have set up structures anywhere.

“Some even came with their animals and this has contributed to the problem of many animals within the boundaries of the town,” said Tjiuma.

The unemployment rate has also increased because of people migrating to Opuwo, the mayor said.
“They expect to be provided with services such as water but that is difficult because it was unplanned for,” said Tjiuma.

However, the situation in Opuwo is not any different from that in remote areas and, according to 41-year-old Ukonjerua Kavari of Omaoipanga village situated 15 kilometres from Opuwo, people depend mainly on drought relief from the government in order to survive.

“It hasn’t rained, you can see how dry it is,” said Kavari, pointing to the dry land. He has seven children and several grandchildren who all depend on him for survival.

Apart from drought relief consisting mainly of maize, cooking oil, salt and rice – which they get only about three times a year – Kavari depends on his livestock for survival.

“I don’t think it will rain this year and if it does it won’t be sufficient for us to recover from this drought. I lost many animals over the years,” lamented Kavari.

He, however, could not indicate how many animals he lost.  
Uahironua Tjisuta, who is 22 years old, said there are 11 adults and seven children at their house.
“We all survive on our grandmother’s pension grant because of the drought,” added Tjisuta. “We sell goats when things are really out of control.”

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