19 March 2013

Namibia: High-Level Meeting Brainstorms On Drought

Windhoek — The Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku and some ministers are meeting in Otjiwarongo to discuss the prevailing drought conditions reported in various regions of the country, as well as the flood problem in Caprivi Region.

"From 2012, the government was notified about a dry spell which could culminate in a drought in some parts of the country," Hausiku said, adding that such drought conditions were first detected in Kunene and some parts of Omusati Region, and were later experienced in Omaheke Region.

At the meeting are at the development partners including the United Nations, European Union, USAID as well as representatives of SADC.

Community members in the Kunene Region are already calling on government to subsidise fodder for their livestock, and to look into improving the distribution of drought relief food. The community made formal requests to the chairperson of the Kunene Regional Council's Management Committee, Dudu Murorua, at Opuwo. The region was already experiencing drought, receiving N$32 million from the central government last year to cope with the drought.

Pictures have emerged showing carcasses of dead animals.

In Omaheke, too, the communities are in a frantic search for grazing and water, and so are the communities in Okombahe, who last week relayed their uncertainties if the heavens do not open soon.

Also, in the Aminuis Constituency villagers are up in arms against one another over grazing, which because of the drought, is becoming acute in most in not all communal areas. Indeed, the question is: how would we deal with the situation if the rain does not come soon.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba earlier this year at the opening of the first cabinet session directed the Disaster Management Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister to put measures in place to ensure that no loss of life is recorded due to drought.

According to the Meteorological Service Department rainfall report, Namibia experienced a dramatically low rainfall during February, and most of the inland areas monitored had not recorded a single day of rainfall, albeit sporadic drops of water.

Hausiku called on participants at the meeting to deliberate on all issues and come up with well thought out proposals that will aid the government in implementing them.

"I am saying this because some people questioned our previous operations probably because they lacked understanding on how things are being run or there were things we did not know," said Hausiku.

He said that things could change for the better with the Disaster Management Act, Act 10 of 2012 that will come into force this year. He said it would make the coordination work of disasters easier.

"My clear message at this occasion is that we need to move forward together, move faster with a sense of avoiding loss of lives and livelihood of the affected communities," said the Deputy Prime Minister.

The meeting is said to have two focus points on the agenda - an update of the prevailing situation and mapping out strategies on the forward.

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