WINDHOEK – Recurrent droughts have severely affected both the inhabitants and livestock in Opuwo and the situation is so grim the Opuwo Rural Constituency Councillor, Kazeongere Tjeundo, is appealing for the immediate release of the constituency’s share of drought relief.
Government earlier last month announced it has availed N$573 million drought relief package aimed at helping farmers and families currently gripped by the severe drought – one of the worst in memory.
Those affected would receive food assistance, water tanks and livestock marketing incentives.
Farmers will also be provided with transport subsidy to and from grazing areas, and transport for fodder to the drought-affected farmers, especially in communal areas.
Under the same package, farmers will be receiving support for the lease of grazing for the drought-affected and subsidy for crop farmers.
Likewise, farmers will receive lick supplements for a core herd of 25 cattle and one bull per farmer and fodder subsidy for a core herd of 25 cattle and one bull per farmer.
Tjeundo, who is the councillor on a Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) ticket, told New Era in a telephonic interview last week that the current drought in Opuwo in the Kunene region is devastating and is affecting the livelihoods of around 30 000 people and an undetermined number of livestock as well as wildlife.
He said although no one has died of starvation, a number of cattle and goats have succumbed to the drought.
Tjeundo said while they appreciate the government budget allocation for drought in general, he has his own reservations pertaining to benefits/subsidies, especially in the different categories such as transportation of livestock, leasing and marketing of livestock.
He said in Kunene north none of the above categories will benefit livestock farmers there.
“Farmers have nowhere to relocate for grazing nor anywhere to go and lease. Livestock lost weight and prices are too way down,” he stressed.
Therefore, he said farmers would not benefit from the marketing incentives.
“I suggest Cabinet rethink how best farmers could benefit otherwise in the mentioned categories,” he said.
“Communities have it that only 400 large stock farmers with 25 cows plus a bull will benefit from Kunene region. The question remains ‘who are these 400 farmers to be assisted?’ And the big question is ‘what will happen to the rest?’” he questioned.
“The answer is the rest will be left out to die. Also, the speed of implementation is very slow. Lastly, up until now no single bag has been dropped for communities’ consumption while they are in need of food,” he said.
He feels the Office of the Prime Minister should stop treating drought as business as usual.
“Start putting on hand gloves. Drought should be treated as emergency. Let the OPM have an implementation calendar on drought activities,” he said.
2019-05-29 15:14:41 20 days ago