90 000 livestock perish

04 September 2019 | Disasters

It is estimated that nearly 90 000 livestock have already died from October 2018 to June this year due to the devastating drought that has Namibia in its grip.

Out of the 89 190 livestock deaths reported, the majority are cattle (39 440), followed by goats (25 259), sheep (23 589), donkeys (590) and horses (312). The Keetmanshoop area recorded the most livestock losses with 2 253 cattle, 13 527 goats and 14 965 sheep that were lost. In total, 31 266 livestock died in the

//Karas Region.

Omaruru in the Erongo Region reported the second highest livestock mortalities with 9 262 cattle, 3 906 goats, 2 214 sheep, 264 donkeys and 103 horses that died.

At Opuwo in the Kunene, 14 266 livestock died. No livestock deaths were recorded at Rundu and Nkurenkuru. This is according to the Crop and Household Food Security Monitoring Assessments Report which was just released by the agriculture ministry.

According to the report, livestock farmers continued to incur livestock losses due to a lack of grazing and water as result of the prevailing drought. It was reported that farmers in the communal areas have been unable to sell some of their livestock due to the lack of a formal market, poor livestock condition and very low livestock prices.

The report says that grazing conditions continued to deteriorate in all parts of the country, following the very poor 2018/19 rainfall season. In most regions, grazing is reported to vary between poor and very poor, bare, with very limited browsing or grazing materials available.

“Livestock deaths due to drought are on the rise and many farmers are currently fighting for their livestock by providing them with supplementary feed and water for them to survive the drought situation.”

The report adds that the situation has been exacerbated by poor connections between the 2017/18 rainfall season and the just-ended one and this was seen in the form of delayed onset of the rainy season, erratic and sporadic rainfall patterns as well as frequent, prolonged dry spells, which in all instances were accompanied by high temperatures.

The southern regions and the north-western parts of the country were the first and most affected areas where poor rainfall was also experienced in the 2017/18 rainfall season.

“The whole country is now almost equally affected; but slightly better in the north-eastern regions where fair to poor grazing conditions were reported,” says the report.

Poor to critical livestock conditions were reported in the southern regions (//Karas, Hardap and Omaheke), north-central (Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto), and north-western regions (Kunene and Erongo) with livestock mortalities as a result of malnutrition that continued to escalate.

“The situation is more critical in Aminuis in the Omaheke Region and at Ovitoto, Okakarara and Otjituuo in the Otjozondjupa Region as well as most parts of Erongo, Hardap, //Karas and Kunene.

“However, livestock body condition in the Zambezi Region at the time of the report was noted to range between fair and good, while fair to poor body condition was reported in the Kavango East and West regions as well as the resettlement farms in Groot Aub, Kanubeb, Dordabis, Arovlei, and Versailles in the Khomas Region.”

Moreover, the report says the situation is slightly better at commercial farms in Khomas and Otjozondjupa where livestock were reported to be in fair and good condition, probably due to extensive supplementary feeding used in the commercial farming areas.

However most communal farmers in Erongo, Omaheke, and //Karas regions are facing water scarcity as the boreholes yields are low and some have dried up.

The north-central regions (Oshana, Oshikoto, Omusati and Ohangwena) are also the hardest hit when it comes to water supply. According to the report NamWater in June started pumping water from Olushandja/Etaka Dam to Uuvudhiya for livestock consumption.

The water was expected to reach Lake Oponona in Uuvudhiya constituency by August as it has to fill up different wells and earthen dams along the way.

This exercise was in response to the drought situation especially in Oshana and Omusati where livestock have been travelling long distances in search of water.

[email protected] ELLANIE SMIT

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