Veld fires raze 580 000 hectares

99 fires reported since May

10 September 2021 | Accidents

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

A total of 580 480 hectares has burnt to the ground countrywide, while one person died and four others were severely injured.

From May to September, 99 veld fires were detected, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said during a statement on veld fires in Parliament.

He said Namibia’s fire season started in May, as is the case almost every year.

“The country already witnessed some devastating fires, threatening lives, property, degradation of the natural environment, destruction of crops, livestock and game fatalities across the country,” he said.

The frequency and extent of veld fires has become a serious concern for the ministry, which has made repeated calls to the public and stakeholders to prevent the occurrence and spread of fires.

According to the minister, almost the entire whole country is fire-prone, apart from the Erongo and //Karas regions.

Razed

“In Omusati, 21 goats and sheep burnt to death and two cattle posts were destroyed, while in Khomas 25 farms burnt and 491 livestock and game were killed,” Shifeta said.

Moreover, one human was life lost and four persons were severely injured.

Four veld fires occurred in Omusati destroying 11 554 hectares, and nine veld fires were recorded in Khomas covering 75 000 hectares.

Five fires were reported in Oshikoto covering 18 900 hectares, while 80 420 hectares burnt in the Zambezi in 16 veld fires.

In Kunene, seven veld fires were recorded, covering 100 167 hectares.

In Kavango East, 12 veld fires destroyed 40 000 hectares, and 11 fires razed 45 500 hectares in Kavango West.

Omaheke reported 11 fires covering 30 764 hectares, while in Otjozondjupa 16 fires burnt 85 891 hectares.

Hardap reported eight fires covering 20 284 hectares.

Manage

The minister said every year, prior to the start of the fire season, the ministry develops and implements a robust fire management strategy to prevent, detect and suppress fires.

This strategy has components aimed at capacitating stakeholders and the public through education and training local communities in basic fire prevention and firefighting skills.

As part of the strategy, the ministry has started with the internationally accepted practice of the prescribed early burning mechanism, Shifeta said.

Additionally, the ministry facilitates the preparation of extensive networks of firebreaks annually.

He said the public, farmers, landowners and all stakeholders should put in place necessary fire prevention measures such as fire cut lines or fire breaks of 15 metres in width in and around their properties, as well as have basic firefighting tools to assist in case a fire occurs.

“Moreover, other land users such as charcoal burners and picnickers should strictly adhere to fire prevention measures.”