Sweat drips and runs down on livestock farmer Nghipandulwa Ndjuulume’s face. In the scorching sun, with a cane in his hand, Ndjuulume leads his herd of cattle past the drying Oponona Lake, one of the largest lakes in northern Namibia to a water pond a distance away.
“It’s a long walk to other earth water ponds from Oponona Lake, and as you can see, it is one of sweat and lost hope because of the drying out of Oponona Lake,” he said.
For many years, farmers in Oshana and Omusati regions in northern Namibia have depended on water from the Oponona Lake for their animals.
This is no longer the case, as over the years the natural Oponona Lake has been unable to hold an adequate amount of water. The situation is exacerbated by the lack of adequate rainfall and the increasing number of animals that have come to graze in the semi-desert Oponona area.
Ndjuulume has been farming in the Oponona area for 18 years. He fears that he will lose more cattle to the dry spell if the country does not receive adequate rainfall.
“The lake has been a place of refuge for us farmers and our animals. Its drying up is a heavy blow to our livelihoods,” said Ndjuulume.
A great number of animals have already succumbed to the drought, judging from the number of carcasses scattered around the area, he said.
As the lake is drying up, farmers are now seeking alternative earth water ponds, otherwise animals would perish from dehydration, said Amutenya Hilifa, another farmer.
“We have to walk long distances to water points, and still bring back cattle for grazing at Oponona since grazing is good there. But in the meantime if it does not rain life in a few days will get difficult, we will be in a big crisis. This is our only source of water for our animals,” said another farmer Erastus Shililima.
Ndjuulume, like many farmers thwarted by water scarcity for their animals said that he has already lost many cattle and he cannot lose more.
“I have to try by all means to make sure that the remaining cattle survive, regardless of the distance I will have to cover,” Ndjuulume said.
As Ndjuulume and farmers try to make ends meet, they are calling on government to mobilize resources to assist farmers and deepen the lake.
“If the lake can be deepened, it may help and save our animals. Because there is grazing here, but no water,” Ndjuulume said as he continued with his journey, searching for water.
Namibia has experienced a drought since 2013. In June 2016, water utility NAMWATER tried to pump water from Olushandja dam in the Omusati region via Uuvudhiya-Olushandja canal, however the water could not reach the intended destination Oponona Lake. Enditem