20 July 2012

Namibia: Drought Relief for Kunene

THE Cabinet has declared four constituencies in the Kunene Region as drought stricken and approved N$32 million in relief aid.

Prime Minister Nahas Angula yesterday said that close to 20 000 people are affected.

The governor of the Kunene Region, Josua //Hoëbeb, said urgent intervention is needed in the Epupa, Opuwo, Sesfontein and Khorixas West constituencies, where people and livestock alike are suffering under extreme drought conditions. The situation is so grave that a six-month feeding programme for people will start on August 1.

//Hoëbeb said most farmers need boreholes drilled in areas where there is a lot of grass while vulnerable people such as pregnant women, children under five years, pensioners and people with disabilities have to be assisted with food relief.

More than N$4 million from the N$32 million approved will be spent on food while the biggest chunk totalling more than N$14 million will be used for drilling at least 30 boreholes.

More than N$6 million will go towards the cleaning and rehabilitation of 19 boreholes while N$2 million is for a livestock marketing incentive scheme to reduce pressure on the available grazing.

An assessment report conducted in May and June by the governor's office and traditional authorities in the region found that there were vast discrepancies in food availability at household level.

The assessment also found that water supply is a major concern, although a large number of springs are available in some constituencies which serve as major source of water.

"The food insecurity situation is aggravated by the poor condition of the livestock that has reduced the production of enough milk, as most communities depend on their livestock for their survival," the report states.

The report also proposed the the Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management should consider culling some wild animals before they starve to death, and that the meat be distributed to the affected communities.

The report says the grazing in communal areas never recovered from the drought of the 2010/11 season.

The overall condition of livestock and wildlife is "lean" and most of the areas are either overgrazed or there is no grass at all, while areas with grazing lack water for animals.

"The communities in the affected areas would face an uncertain future with longer and more severe spells of drought," the assessment report observed.

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