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Government shields cattle from drought…Over 3 000 Matabeleland South cattle succumb to dry spell

Minister of Lands, agriculture, fisheries, water, climate and rural development Dr Anxious Masuka leads villagers on a tour of Ngwana Dam in Plumtree, Matabeleland South Province yesterday

THE Government has launched a programme to drill boreholes for livestock in Matabeleland South province where thousands of cattle have died due to drought. The province is facing a critical shortage of water in communal areas as dams have dried up.

An estimated 3 000 cattle have died in the province since October due to drought and Bulilima District is the worst affected as it has lost more than 1 000 cattle. The livestock distress calls became pronounced a week ago when villagers in Matobo reported an increase in the number of cattle getting stuck in the mud while attempting to access the little water left in the drying dams.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka yesterday visited Bulilima district’s Ngwana and Ndiweni villages where he was shown the dams that have  dried up leaving livestock with no source of water. 

Villagers told Minister Masuka that Ngwana Dam had dried up for the first time since 1987.

Dr Masuka said he was visiting the worst affected areas to get an appreciation of the severity of the drought in order to recommend to Government the necessary interventions.

“This is part of the tour that we are conducting. What we know is that there are four districts in Matabeleland South that are worst affected and these are Bulilima, Gwanda, part of Beitbridge and Matobo. We are here to assess the situation on the ground so that we can recommend to Government the  appropriate interventions,” said Dr Masuka.

He said the immediate intervention was drilling boreholes to guarantee people and their livestock water

Minister Masuka said cattle also require supplementary feeding given that the onset of the rains has delayed hence the need to scale up bailing. 

Lands, agriculture, fisheries, water, climate and rural development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka addresses villagers at Ngwana Dam yesterday

“We are also saying, what are the medium to long-term measures? Is the dam scooping a possibility and over what time and where? Government will therefore announce additional measures at national level next week. Yesterday I was in Masvingo province where we did a similar tour because we need a national response informed by local circumstances,” said Dr Masuka.

He directed the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and Rural Industrialisation Development Agency to immediately deploy teams to the ground and address the critical water situation.

He said by Monday Ngwana Village should have a new borehole before moving to Ndiweni.

Dr Masuka said while there is a running national programme to drill boreholes across the country, priority will now be given to areas facing critical water shortage. 

He said Government was hopeful that the rains would come soon as meteorologists have predicted that the Zimbabwe will receive rains next week and the country is likely to have a wet Christmas. 

Meanwhile, Matabeleland South Provincial Veterinary Services director Dr Enat Mdlongwa said the province lost about 3 000 cattle in just two months.

He said there is an urgent need to provide farmers with supplementary feed.

Ngwana senior village head Mr Wellington Dube said the situation was desperate and the last time they experienced a similar situation was 36 years ago.

“We have a serious water shortage and this should be urgently addressed to save our livestock,” said Mr Dube.

Chronicle

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