A devastating drought continues to plague the Karoo, with boreholes drying up and livestock dying from starvation at an alarmingly rapid rate.
The social media page for the Strydenburg-based organisation KAIN – Karoo animals in need – showcases the realities many farmers, livestock and locals are facing due to the effects of the water shortage.
A social media post shared by Emma Wildermuth-Loots, a farm-owner in Strydenburg area shows shocking images of animals being buried after starving to death. Loots explains in her post that the drought has plagued the Karoo and outlying areas since 2011, and that there is a dire shortage of livestock fodder.
She adds that her own farm is unable to feed the animals, and many farmers in the area are turning to selling their property in a desperate attempt to escape the disaster.
“Just got a desperate call from a farmer who doesn’t know what to do anymore. People, there is nothing to feed these animals in [the] Strydenburg area. There is no money left as we are struggling with a terrible drought since 2011. The auction of another farm 8km on the road to Britstown is due shortly. We cannot help as we are also struggling to feed the animals.”
Farmers are being forced to bury their livestock as they pass away from lack of water and food.
Loots goes on to implore the public to donate fodder to farmers in the area so they can feed their animals.
“Is there anybody that can help them. We can get [maize] at R160 a bale. Please contact Alta Loots at 082 835 9466 if you can sponsor a bale. We can also put you directly in contact with the farmers in need. Please help them! We need about R15 000 to order an interlink of [maize] depending on how many bales they can load. Will update progress.”
“We have 4140 for the immediate relief load. Thank you J. Maritz, S.Brown, E. Abill, D. Rogers and a bale from an anonymous person. Thank you we are over 1/3 there. 25 bales so far. We will update as we receive more.”
A domino effect
Project leader of non-profit organisation Save the Sheep, Sybil Visagie says the Karoo is not equipped to deal with the extreme drought.
“This is the biggest disaster the Karoo has ever seen and no one has educated us on how to manage this,” says Visagie.
Currently, the Gift of the Givers Foundation, a disaster relief group, is providing aid to the area by transporting donated fodder to farmers in both the Eastern and Northern Cape. The organisation, along with Save the Sheep and various other aid groups, is also assisting farmers in Sutherland who do not have drinking water in their homes.
Visagie says that backyard farms are receiving aid as well as larger farms. The drought has a domino effect, affecting not just livestock but farm owners and workers. Visagie explains that many have lost their jobs and source of livelihood to the current situation.
“Farm workers have lost their jobs and Save the Sheep is helping these individuals by distributing food parcels to them,” she said.
Visagie adds that statistics and investigative research show scarcity of water will continue to plague the region for another three years.