'Reopen public water points'

The NNFU has also pleaded with the authorities to consider repairing all damaged boreholes and public taps.

05 July 2019 | Disasters

The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) is calling on government to use some the N$572.7 million earmarked for drought relief to reopen community water points that have been disconnected.

The union also applauded NamWater for its speedy action in pumping water from the Olushandja Dam to Uuvudhiya.

NNFU president Jason Emvula said after several meetings with farmers, they were informed that many animals are in dire need of water, as community water points have been disconnected, while private water connections have accumulated massive debts, which many farmers are unable to pay.

Emvula said they are consulting farmers and other stakeholders involved in the matter.

“The most important thing for the livestock currently is water. If farmers can feed their livestock with the little they have and give them enough water they will survive.

Our plea is that the government must consider repairing all the damaged boreholes and public taps and also reconnect all the closed public water points,” Emvula said.

“We understand that some closed water points are due to unpaid water debts. Let us reconnect them for now and we can talk about the debts at a later stage, after we have assisted the farmers.”

Cabinet has announced that N$572.7 million is needed for a comprehensive drought relief intervention to assist drought-affected communities.

The money is earmarked for food assistance, water tanks, livestock management incentives, livestock transport subsidies to and from grazing areas, the transporting of fodder, the leasing of grazing areas, subsidies for crop farmers and lick and fodder subsidies. Farmers have been urged to reduce their herds to 25 cows and one bull per farmer. Regions have mandated the directorate of veterinary services (DVS) to register livestock owners for the drought assistance programme.

Emvula said the challenge is that areas with a better grazing have no water and people with private water connections already have high water debts.

“We are not talking about disconnected private water; our advocacy is on public water points. However, the situation of people using private water is also complex, because if there are no public water points, people are forced to use private water and people who have relocated their livestock are leaving others with high debts when they go back, because after the rains such people will go back,” Emvula said.

“Not all people with livestock can afford to pay water bills, especially those bills that are high because of livestock. The better option is for government also to open abattoirs so that farmers can destock their livestock.”

In May, Ohangwena regional council chairperson Erickson Ndawanifa told Namibian Sun that many farmers are driving their livestock into Ohangwena, in the hope of surviving the drought.

He said the region is now experiencing challenges in terms of managing grazing and infrastructure. He said boreholes are being damaged due to the added pressure and there was also a high risk of environmental degradation and erosion, because carrying capacities were being exceeded.

NamWater is spending over N$2 million to pump water from the Olushandja Dam to Lake Oponona at Uuvudhiya, in a bid to save thousands of thirsty livestock.

ILENI NANDJATO

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