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By: Justicia Shipena

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said the frequency of veld fires has become a serious concern as Namibia records 99 veld fires between May and September.

Updating the National Assembly on Wednesday, Shifeta said a total of 580 480 hectares were burnt countrywide.

He added that 21 goats and sheep were burnt to death in Omusati region while two cattle posts were destroyed.

“In Khomas, 25 farms burnt and 491 livestock and game killed, one human life lost and four severely injured,” he said.

Shifeta expressed that it is worrisome to observe fire incidences destroying properties and putting people’s lives in danger.

“The reduction of forest fires therefore should be considered as an issue of national importance by all the role players particularly land and property owners,” he said.

According to Shifeta, annually the ministry implements a robust fire management strategy.

“This strategy has components aimed at capacitating stakeholders and the public through education and training local communities in basics fire prevention and firefighting skills,” said Shifeta.

Through this strategy the ministry also sensitises members of the public on the dangers, preventative measures and suppression techniques of fires.

He continued saying the ministry has started with the internationally accepted practice of the prescribed early burning mechanism.

This practice is a pre-planned ignition of fire for specific purposes such as fuel reduction.

Last year, Shifeta said they facilitated the construction of 953 Kms firebreaks.

“This year we planned to facilitate the construction of 2 117 Kms of firebreaks.”

Moreover, this year there is a plan to clear 300 km in Oshana region.

Currently, of the 300 km, 90 km has been successfully cleared.

“Oshikoto region planned to clear 125 km, Omusati region 492 km, Ohangwena region planned to clear 150 km and 125 km cleared used MEFT Grader, Kavango East planned 150 and Kavango West planned to clear 300 km and Zambezi region planned to clear 200 km, Otjozondjupa planned to clear 250 km and Kunene planned to clear 150 km,” he said.

Shifeta called upon the implementation of fire prevention measures such as fire cut lines or fire breaks of 15 m width.

“Moreover, other land users such as charcoal burners and picnickers should strictly adhere to fire prevention measures,” he explained.

Shifeta further said all citizens must utilise fire responsibly.

“We have noted with great concern that, most of the time, destructive fire is caused by irresponsible behaviour or attitudes.”

The most affected regions are Kavango East, Kavango West, Otjozodjupa, Oshikoto, Zambezi, Ohangwena, Kunene, Oshana, Omusati, Khomas, Hardap and Omaheke.

Justicia Shipena

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