The yearly rainy season in Namibia tends to occur in the months of November to April. This year Namibia received higher volumes of rainfall, although some 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 (hectares) as at end of November 2022, 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 Limited and sponsored five firefighting machines to assist the regions where veld fires tend to occur. AGRA offered a total discount on the five machines to the value of N$40 000.

During 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 Jr, Manager of Brand and Communication at Agra Limited equally shared the same 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 further 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 the MEFT, Esmerialda Strauss the Deputy Director of Forest and Botanical Research, Directorate of Forestry welcomed the donation of five firefighting machines which have been dispatched to the Forestry Regional Offices in five regions: Outjo, Kunene Region; Rundu, Kavango East Region; Tsumeb, Oshikoto Region; Otjiwarongo, Otjozondjupa Region; and Rehoboth, Hardap Region.

The firefighting machines will be managed by the respective offices and will be available to stakeholders in the event of a fire emergency.

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.

There is no single solution to address the challenges posed by veld fires, but Old Mutual Foundation believes that “we as a nation can equip the affected communities with resources to combat the veld fires in the affected regions across Namibia.”

In the photo: Jonas Mwiikinghi, Chief Forester – Forest Management, Ministry of Environment, Forestry & Tourism; Piet Stoman Jr., Brand and Communication Manager Agra. In front row is Esmerialda Strauss, Deputy Director – Forest & Botanical Research, Ministry of Environment, Forestry & Tourism; Mignon du Preez, Marketing, Public Affairs and Sustainability Executive, Old Mutual.