Lake Oponona still dry

Farmers at Uuvudhiya in the Oshana Region say they are still without water for their livestock despite recent rain in the area.

11 January 2017 | Disasters

Farmers in the Uuvudhiya grazing area of the Oshana Region say they were hopeful when it started raining toward the end of last year, but became despondent when the rain stopped and Lake Oponona was still empty.

Largely thanks to Lake Oponona the Uuvudhiya area became home to a vast number of animal posts for farmers from Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omusati and Oshana.

A farmer from the Ohangwena Region, Nghipandulwa Djuulume, says grazing conditions have improved, but they still have no water for their cattle.

Farmers are still driving their cattle long distances to places where there is water.

He says only small ponds are filled with water but it is not enough for the large number of cattle in the area.

“The situation remains critical, but stable. Farmers are all over the area searching for their animals that went wild in search of water. The situation became worse when Lake Oponona dried up in October and the shortage of grass intensified.

“Farmers were spending a lot of money to bring in water and buy fodder for their livestock. When it rained, at least the grazing improved, but the water crisis remained and livestock are fleeing to places where there is water,” Djuulume says.

According to him, he started farming at Uuvudhiya in 1998 and he has never experienced a drought like this before.

“This is the first time I am seeing Lake Oponona without water due to poor rainfall last year. Since I started farming here, Oponona could hold water throughout the year. Grazing has been the thing challenging us, but this year we are faced with both water and grazing shortages.”

Uuvudhiya farmers depend on lakes Oponona and Yinakulu yomadhiya for water.

There have been calls at farmers' meetings for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to rehabilitate these two lakes at the end of the Cuvelai delta.

After Lake Oponona dried up last year, NamWater tried to recharge the lake, but the effort failed. NamWater pumped water from the Olushandja Dam in mid-July and used a 130km unlined canal to channel the water to Uuvudhiya. But all the water had seeped into the soil about 50km from Oponona.

ILENI NANDJATO

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