Drought Kills 15,000 Cattle In North West Botswana

Ngamiland farmers, both pastoral and agricultural, are counting their losses against the backdrop of extreme drought situation that has hit the region hard.
Ngami Times reported that the North West’s District Commissioner Chabongwa Matseka revealed to this publication that the drought has claimed more than 15 000 cattle in the district,  14 000 of which have been registered in the Maun Administrative Authority (MAA) alone while  1485 herd have been recorded in Okavango Sub-district making a total of 15 848 dead cattle.
Matseka, however, cautioned that the mortality rate among the cattle in the district could be much higher than that reported.
Matseka also noted that few farmers have ploughed in the district and low yield is expected. She also noted that the drought is aggravated by the fact that the 2015/16 hydrological year generally had low flows which continues to recede. A Sub District Drought Management Committee Report, released on January 28, 2016 also indicates that water levels in the Okavango River at Mohembo were gradually decreasing in October 2015 and started increasing at a low rate as from December 2015 to date.
Matseka also revealed that a team of Inter-Ministerial Drought and Household Assessment is visiting the district this week. “The team will give a full report on the drought situation and they will also present the report to the government perhaps that’s when the decision can be taken whether to declare the district drought affected or not,” she said.
Matseka further said that last May President Ian Khama declared a drought year and farmers were provided with a 25% subsidy towards the pruchase feeds and vaccines from the Livestock Advisory Centres (LACs) and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board.  That subsidy was, during the latter part of the year, raised to 50% in view of the severity of the crisis, she noted.  Matseka also added Okavango sub-district is the most affected region hence they have come up with mitigating factors to deal with the situation. She revealed that the Ministry of Health has introduced a direct feeding programme for malnurished children in clinics of that sub-district.
The programme has started and it caters for children that are under-weight. If the child is underweight they are going to be fed directly at the clinic until they regain their weight, she said, adding that they are still at the initial stage and they are experiencing some shortage of some cooking utensils.
“We are at the implementing stage and we are working with the Village Development Committee (VDC) and other sections of the government,” she said.
She, however, emphasised that the programme is to be introduced to the rest of Ngamiland as most of the families in district have been affected by famine. “Food at household level have been affected and a lot of families have run out of food,” she said
Matseka also revealed that in Okavango sub-district the government has introduced a special drought initiative in which 4,300 people are being supplied with food rations in the form of maize meal, beans and cooking oil.  “The initiative was introduced in 2014 after an assessment was made that food at household level in the district was low and the government came up with the initiative to supply food ration,” she said.
By: Ngami Times. source-bulawayo24

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