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Ohangwena in grips of severe drought, reduction in consumer spending

The Ohangwena region continues to face social challenges that negatively affect residents like the severe drought that will impact most if not all constituencies, and low economic activity due to high inflation rates.

Most areas in the region have experienced less rainfall over recent months, leading to an impending poor harvest and expected poor grazing rangelands.

Regional governor Walde Ndevashiya said as a result of insufficient grazing due to the bad rainfall, livestock farmers are facing a difficult time and have begun seeking grazing in Angola.

Ndevashiya was speaking during the Ohangwena state of the region address at Eenhana yesterday.

“Based on the outcome of the preliminary flood impacts assessment carried out, many crop fields were submerged, which has led to poor harvests in the affected communities.

“To mitigate far reaching negative impacts of the recent flood, communities will need government intervention through the provision of drought relief food.”

He said his office has been inundated with requests from farmers and traditional authorities for dialogue between the Namibian and Angola authorities on the issue of livestock grazing.

“This presents a need for the governments of Namibia and Angola the convene a high level engagement to deliberate on the matter of Namibian farmers grazing in Angola.”

Ndevashiya called on the government to explore the possibility of the formalisation and granting of grazing rights in the Cunene and Cuando Cubango provinces, given the influx of cattle farmers into Angola in search of better pasture.

Furthermore, Ndevashiya said the region observed a severe reduction in business activities leading to reductions in consumer spending, business investment and in government and trade-related revenues.

“The situation dampened the rate of economic growth in the local economy and resulted in inflated prices for energy and food products, as well as imported commodities, and an impact on primary commodity exports, leading to a contraction in GDP growth.

“The region has commenced initiating projects aimed at revitalising the regional economic trajectory, which will ultimately result in better quality of life for our residents. In line with this year’s theme: ‘The Year of Revival’, the region will see various local authorities reviving their economic activities through hosting of business expos and festivals after three years of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ndevashiya.

He called on residents to seriously undertake economic development initiatives to engage in business activities, particularly the youth, to turn the unfavourable situation around.

The region continues to encounter a number of challenges that hinder the effective execution of developmental programmes and negatively affect the prompt provision of services to residents.

“Poor road infrastructure, limited access to potable water, compounded by the slow pace of water infrastructure development.

“With regards to education, the following challenges face the region: insufficient budgetary allocation for both operational and development budget as the pupil population/enrolment grows annually, particularly in the local authorities of Eenhana, Helao Nafidi and Okongo, which increased demand for more resources such as physical facilities and human resources, as well as internet connectivity to support information communication technology in teaching and learning.

“Insufficient basic education facilities lead to poor performance especially in English, physics and mathematics.

“Furthermore, a high repetition rate in grades 1, 4 and 8 and a shortage of boarding schools,” he said.

The region currently has eight boarding schools serving 274 schools and 121 393 pupils, he said.

To overcome the challenges, Ndevashiya urged all residents to show unity of purpose and work together in the spirit of Harambee.