Namibia issues drought aid appeal

By Lahja Nashuuta

WINDHOEK-NAMIBIA has made an international appeal to deal with persistant drought that has left over 730,000 people in need of food aid.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says the government needed to rise over R600 million for food aid, water provision and livestock assistance.

Of the 729,314 people affected by drought in Namibia, 595,839 live in the rural areas.

The country requires an estimated 83,363 metric tons of maize meal, the Premier revealed while receiving a humanitarian donation from the African Union recently.

The African Union donated R1.3 million to Namibia through the Office of the Prime Minister to address drought in the country. A delegation that included Lamine Yahiaoui, the permanent representative of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to the AU and humanitarian experts from the AU Commission conducted a humanitarian assessment mission in Namibia from October 23 to 28, 2016.

The battle against the El Niño-induced drought is getting tougher, despite assurance by climate experts that Southern Africa is expected to receive good rainfall.

But until the rains come, Namibians are optimistic that the government will provide them with drought relief aid for themselves and their livestock. Wild animals have not been spared either as water sources in national parks in regions like Zambezi are drying up.

Drought has severely affected agricultural production and water supply in Namibia.

In Omusati region, Governor Erginus Endjala says close to 200,000 inhabitants are dependent on government drought aid and about 38,000 cattle have died of hunger and thirst.

“The situation is getting worse every day, especially for livestock. There is insufficient grazing and water.

Boreholes have dried up while at some places where grazing is available water is too salty for consumption,” Endjala has said.

He says the situation is very precarious, particularly in the Uuvudhiya Constituency in Oshana region where many farmers from Omusati, Oshikoto, and as far as Ohangwena have moved their livestock due to depleted grazing land.

Kunene is worse off than other regions. The Chairperson of the Kunene Regional Council, Julius Kaujova, who is also councillor for the Sesfontein Constituency, says the situation is so dire that most boreholes have dried up.

“The critical issues facing the region are lack of grazing for the animals and water while our people are also in need of food,” he says.

Kaujova is appealing to the government, private sector and the international community to assist the region with stock feed and drilling of more boreholes.