Worried Uuvudhiya farmers watch slow canal

27 September 2016 | Disasters

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Water that was pumped by NamWater from the Olushandja Dam to Uuvudhiya about two months ago has not yet reached its destination.
The Oshana Regional Council requested to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to appeal to NamWater to pump water to Uuvudhiya in order to help rehabilitate Lake Oponona’s water that had become too salty for animals.
Namwater started pumping water from the Olushandja Dam in mid-July, making use of a 130-kilometre-long disused canal, but it only flowed as far as the Otamanzi Constituency.
The Oshana regional councillor for Uuvudhiya Constituency, Amutenya Ndahafa, told Namibian Sun that local farmers cleaned the canal to make the water flow faster, but the soil is too dry and it simply sinks away.
The Uuvudhiya area has good grazing and is home to a number of animal posts for farmers from Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omusati and Oshana, but there is no proper water supply.
The farming area relies on water from the Cuvelai Drainage System – a network of oshanas that run from southern Angola to the Etosha salt pan. Because of poor rainfall in the catchment area in the past three years, this seasonal flood did not arrive to replenish Lake Oponona.
“Farmers in Uuvudhiya depend on Lake Oponona and Lake Yinakulu yomadhiya for water. The current problem is that Oponona, which is the only catchment containing water, has become salty and some animals do not want to drink the water anymore. Oponona’s water is naturally salty, but once mixed with rainwater it becomes usable for animal consumption. That is why we are so eager for that water to reach Oponona,” Ndahafa said.
The water pumped from Olushandja will not only benefit farmers in Uuvudhiya, but also those along the way in the Uukolonkadhi, Uukwaludhi and Ongandjera areas.
“This water will relieve the plight of farmers in Uuvudhiya,” Ndahafa said.
“Many farmers approached my office frustrated by the Oshakati-Omapale water pipeline that supplies tap water they use for their livestock.
“Due to the high water demand in the area, this pipeline does not have the capacity to provide water to all the livestock in Uuvudhiya.
“Through the Iipumbu yaTshilongo Conservancy, farmers have raised money to rehabilitate some earthen dams to store the pumped water and supplement Oponona.”
Namwater says there are 14 earthen dams along the canal, but only four were opened to receive water, just to make sure that water reaches Oponona.
According to the acting chairman of the Oshana Regional Farmers’ Union, Thomas Nambabi, they fear many livestock will start dying next month.
“Farmers start giving water to their livestock at midnight because by early morning the water stops running in the pipeline. It is a very serious situation. There is not even enough grass for animals,” Nambambi said.
He said he has been grazing his cattle in the Uuvudhiya area since 1986 and the last time they experienced such a devastating drought was in 1991, when they lost thousands of cattle.

ILENI NANDJATO

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