Bleak future for northern farmers … as pans dry up

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Bleak future for northern farmers … as pans dry up

UUVUDHIYA – With sporadic rains experienced, hope among farmers in the northern regions is fading at unprecedented levels in the face of a water crisis and drying water sources.

As such, the fear of losing livestock is high among farmers as the
available water is saline, and there is no grazing pasture due to persistent droughts that have gripped the regions.

So dire is the situation that members of the community must track long distances to get water where the water pipeline ends.

Worse, the Oponona pan, which caters for most northern livestock, has been without water for two years now.

Uuvudhiya constituency councillor Timoteus Shivute said the situation is getting worse by the day, as the remaining pan, Iihana, that was left with water might dry up soon. “The water that was pumped last year by Namwater did not reach all villages, as it ended halfway. I strongly believe if Namwater pumps water again this year, it might reach all places,” Shivute said.

Sem Shivolo, a farmer from Omapopo village, said if the situation continues like this, “it will end in tears”. “We are at the point where we don’t have a choice but to let everything be as it is. There is no hope anymore,” the distraught farmer said.

Primarily, their livestock face a bleak future due to a water shortage.

“The situation is like this: in areas where there is [animal] feed, there is no water, while where there is water, there is no feed, so livestock trek a long distance to get both,” Shivolo explained their dilemma.

Another farmer, Silas Amupolo from Oponona village, said despite poor rains, the evaporation happening at Iihana small pan is largely caused by neighbouring villages’ cattle consuming water from it.

He added that the pan helps neighbouring villages with water, and many unknown cattle are assembling at the pan and village water points.

“In a communal setting, livestock are moving freely and there is no way one can control the water in the pan, as we must help each other,” he said.

He said some farmers are not from Oshana; they came from other regions in search of hunger and thirst.

“The village water points are a few kilometres from the small pan, and livestock are at risk of getting thirsty,” said another farmer, Fanuel Shikomba.

He indicated that the dried-up pan will increase pressure on the waterpoint.

The government has budgeted N$825 million from the national emergency disaster fund for the drought relief support programme for the 2024/25 financial year.

The programme aims to address the drought situation the country is currently facing, government spokesperson Emma Theofelus reiterated recently.

She stated that the livestock support programme received a budget of N$100 million, while the water provision programme received a budget of N$100 million.