WHILE President Hage Geingob presened Namibia’s action plan on climate change at the Climate Action Summit during 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the severe drought is decimating the bovine population of the northern regions back home.
Cattle are not only one of the backbone of the local economy in the Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati and Oshikoto Regions, but also an important pillar of the indigenous culture.
“Cattle are dying en mass in Oshikoto just like in our neighbouring regions,” said Oshikoto Regional Governor Henock Kankoshi.
He said that his office is not yet in possession of exact number of the drought-related cattle deaths so far, but added that the situation is terrible.
He added that his office is working in close collaboration with constituency offices and ministry of agriculture not only to determine the extent of the damage caused by the drought so far, but also working on modalities of alleviating the situation.
The total number of cattle in the northern communal areas was in 2015 estimated at 1.6 million. The numbers kept increasing mostly because cattle are seen not only as a marketable commodity but mostly as a valuable cultural asset.
Educationist Dineinge Sheya who is also Oshali village headman in the Ohangwena Region, said the situation is really desperate and no assistance is forthcoming.
“The government’s drought relief is limited to talking. No actual assistance is being provided to the affected communities,” he said, adding that cattle farmers in his area have lost close to 900 head of cattle.
According to him, many households have closed their cattle kraals, meaning that all the animals have died.
“People have tried to by all means save their livestock, including rationing dry mahangu stalks and leaves where available, and buying fodder, but we are now losing the battle,” he said.