Fighting fires togetherThe annual rainy season in Namibia tends to occur from November to April. This year, while some areas have more rain, other parts are yet to receive some showers.
However, after the rainy season, grasslands tend to dry which increases the risk of possible natural disasters such as veld fires. The months between July and October are commonly known as the veld fire season.
Last year, Namibia experienced devastating veld fires which destroyed 1 489 385 ha by the end of November, causing severe injuries and loss of life to both humans and animals and equally damaging property and infrastructure.
Against this background, the Old Mutual Foundation (OMF) engaged the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) to determine how best the foundation could support the ministry. Through this engagement, the OMF partnered with the MEFT as well as Agra by sponsoring five firefighting machines to assist the regions where veld fires mostly tend to occur.
Agra offered a discount of N$40 000 on the five machines valued at N$145 000.
Speaking at the handover Mignon du Preez, the Old Mutual Marketing, Public Affairs, and Sustainability Executive stated that “what we have witnessed in terms of the dangers posed and the number of terrains decimated in veld fires, demonstrates a clear environmental threat to Namibian communities, impacting food security but most importantly the threat it poses to the lives of Namibians. Thus, as the Old Mutual Foundation, we saw the need to play a proactive role.”
Piet Stoman, Manager of Brand and Communication at Agra, shared these sentiments saying that as the household name in agriculture, “Agra is proud to be a part of this initiative. We are all too familiar with the devastation caused by veld fires and have first-hand experience with the dangers, the losses, and the after-effects of fires.”
Agra thanked the OMF for their trust and for initiating this opportunity as they believe that the firefighters and the new equipment will play an important role in serving communities across Namibia by helping to save lives and livelihoods for years to come.
Accepting the donation on behalf of MEFT, Esmerialda Strauss, said the five firefighting machines have been dispatched to regional forestry offices at Outjo, Rundu, Tsumeb, Otjiwarongo and Rehoboth.
The equipment will be managed by the respective offices and will be available for use in the event of a fire.
She said that fire preparedness activities by the Directorate of Forestry include the management of veld fires through prevention and suppression, community outreach, education, and awareness as well as stakeholder engagement.