Calls for harvesting rainwater at Okatyali

23 January 2020 | Local News

Farmers in the Okatyali Constituency of the Oshana Region are calling on the government to build an earthen dam in their area in order to harvest water during the rainy season.

Okatyali receives the overflow from Lake Oponona, which is a catchment area for floodwater from the Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati regions.

The farmers made this call yesterday during a familiarisation visit by Oshana governor Elia Irimari, who promised to look into their request.

Irimari and his delegation, including chief regional officer Martin Elago, visited Okatyali after receiving a report that floodwater had cut off some farmers from their farms across the Oniiwe River.

People cross the river in a canoe provided by the constituency office.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Eliud Shipena said the area benefits from floodwater for only four months, while their livestock need water year-round.

“During the rainy season we always have water all over the place, but this water only last for four months. During the dry season farmers struggle to get water for their livestock.

“I am therefore calling on the government through the office of the governor to excavate earthen dams in this area so that we can harvest rainwater for use during drought,” said Shipena.

“This is the only water source we have in the area and once we get an earthen dam, we can use it until the next rainy season.

During a year of good rain like this, this area provides grazing that can last for two years.

“Even last year when there was a devastating drought, people were still coming to get grass here because they couldn't bring their cattle here due to the unavailability of water.”

Irimari said his delegation was visiting the Okatyali grazing area to assess the flood situation and decide on appropriate measures.

He said long-term solutions such as a bridge and a dam were needed.

“We came here to do an assessment for ourselves to find out what mitigation measures we can put in place. We need to come up with long-term plans so that we cannot just be spending money every time we come here. The ideal plan would be to construct a floating bridge and an earthen dam,” Irimari said.

“We also came to assess the canoe that is being used and we observed that it needs some repair while the crossing conditions are also unsafe.

We therefore brought 25 life jackets to be used when people are crossing the river.”