WINDHOEK, Aug. 14 — Dwellers in north-eastern and central Namibia are counting losses after wildfires raged across the areas, destroying infrastructure, livestock, and farms.
The shrubbery vegetation in the mountainous Dordabis area, 80 km east of the capital Windhoek, central Namibia, turned to nothing very quickly.
“The fire spread fast and went up in flames with many things burned to the ground,” said Rose Arie, a community member from Dordabis, when describing her experience of a wildfire that devoured the community.
So far, the wildfire has destroyed more than 50,000 hectares of land at Dordabis, further damaging 15 farms, resettlement, and communal areas.
According to Michael Otsub, acting director of forest management in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, the frequent occurrences of wildfires are becoming a growing concern.
“The situation was exacerbated by hot winds coupled with a high volume of dry spoils of vegetation following good rains received in the last season, and climate change,” Otsub said.
Although suppressed to a manageable level by Aug. 8, the locals are thwarted.
“We are counting massive losses, not only in terms of livelihoods but also the environment, infrastructure, natural resources, and source of income,” Arie added.
In the north-eastern part of Namibia, emerging farmers at the national Sikondo Irrigation Project in the Kavango East region are reeling in pain after a fire burned down some crops and irrigation equipment.
Levi Hakusembe is one of the medium-scale farmers occupying about 30 hectares of land at the project. He had invested about 500,000 Namibian dollars (about 34,000 U.S. dollars) in bolstering his agricultural venture.
“I started with high optimism for good yields. However, this breakout has affected us negatively. The fire destroyed not only the crops but also dreams,” he said.
Nelson Ashipala, another medium-scale farmer, said that the fire destroyed plots under production this planting season, which would derail progress.
“It is quite devastating. We are moving into the peak maize season, and if the pivot, critical for planting, is not fixed in time, it will pose a challenge. We will either start the season late or not plant at all, translating to major losses,” he said.
Maize is one of the country’s cash crops and the main source of income for the farmers.
Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry is underway with the public education campaign to raise awareness about wildfires countrywide to prevent future fires. The ministry has thus far distributed materials to farmers on how to prevent fires.
“There is need for concerted efforts with all stakeholders including the local authorities and community residents, to provide aid to affected communities and extend love and care,” Otsub concluded.