Veld Fires Ravage Kavango Regions

Veld Fires Ravage Kavango Regions

19 November 2013

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Namibia — Veldfires hit Kavango East and West the hardest so far this year with an area measuring 10 673 square kilometres ravaged between January to October this year, according to a recent report released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

The Regional Forestry Directorate in the Kavango regions recently presented the Monthly Burned Area Report for October during a Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee (RDRMC) monthly meeting. According to the report last month veldfires destroyed an area covering 1625 square kilometres in the two sister-regions.

The Otjozondjupa Region is the second most-affected region in the country after 3330 square kilometres of vegetation was destroyed during the reported period, followed by the Zambezi and Omaheke regions with 2611 and 1543 square kilometres of vegetation destroyed respectively. The report also reveals that last month four cases were reported in the two Kavango regions, but only two were attended to because of a lack of transportation.

“Two were not attended to because the fire truck and Land Cruiser bakkies were in the garage,” states the report. Forest ranger in the ministry’s regional forest directory, Felitia Kayofa told New Era yesterday that most veldfires are caused by humans. “Most of the fires are caused by people. So far we are yet to arrest anyone, because the community members are not forthcoming with information,” she said.

Kayofa indicated that since some parts of the region are densely vegetated, hunters contribute to the situation by burning the vegetation to flush out game and apparently create favourable hunting conditions. Although the year was relatively dry, the grass still managed to dominate most parts of the region, hence the veldfires, she said. “In June we trained over 100 people from the Kahenge constituency, although they were not given fire beaters after the training.

The equipment is now available waiting for the councillor to come and collect,” she told New Era, adding that “each trainee will receive a fire beater which will enable them to extinguish veldfires without having to wait for ministry officials to come and stop the fire.”

New Era also learnt that crop farmers who clear their fields by burning the grass instead of weeding, also contribute to veldfires. The RDRMC further lamented the fact that the ministry has in the past trained members of the community to extinguish veldfires, but they were not provided with fire extinguishing equipment.

In April the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, called on all Namibians to make a collective effort to proactively prevent the outbreak of any uncontrolled veldfires. “All efforts must be done, including community education awareness campaigns, in all regions of our country, to pro-actively prevent the outbreaks of any uncontrolled veldfires.” He also warned strongly that “any irresponsible acts, that may result in the outbreak of veldfires, anywhere in Namibia, will and must be regarded as a criminal offence and those responsible will and must be prosecuted.

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