Namibia: Drought Relief Not for the Well-Off - PM

(file photo)

PRIME minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says the government's drought relief programme is only meant to benefit destitute and vulnerable communities.

She said although the government was aware that the drought has affected most citizens, they can only assist needy households and communities.

The premier made these remarks in the National Assembly on Thursday when responding to contributions from opposition members - PDM's Jennifer van den Heever and APP's Madala Nauyoma - who claimed the criteria used by the government to identify beneficiaries was discriminatory.

The Namibian earlier this year reported that the government had provided N$570 million to help distressed farmers and communities.

The comprehensive drought intervention plan includes food assistance to communities affected by drought, and the provision of water tankers.

The government also received a lot of support in the form of pledges from foreign governments, international organisations, local corporate entities, as well as individuals, towards the drought relief programme.

The government started rolling out the drought relief programme from the beginning of this month.

Under the programme, identified beneficiaries will receive a food basket made up of 20 kilogramme maize meal, 750 millilitres of cooking oil, and relish (mainly 4 x 400 grammes tinned fish).

To qualify for the food basket, a household must not earn an income of more than N$2 600 per month, and must not be a beneficiary of food relief from any source during the same period.

To benefit from the fodder given for livestock support, farmers must have less than 26 large stock units (cattle) and 130 small stock units (goats and/or sheep).

Identified farmers will receive free fodder and licks.

The livestock marketing incentive will only benefit those willing to destock due to drought. Farmers selling cattle to each other in the same area will not benefit from the incentive.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the beneficiaries were selected based on the vulnerability of households, with no means of survival, and those not benefiting from any other schemes.

The process of verifying the beneficiaries will be concluded by 5 July 2019.

"Special attention will be given to all social groups, but preference will be given to households headed by women and disabled members of the society who meet the criteria," she added.

The prime minister, however, confirmed that the government also received numerous complaints from different regions regarding the criteria used to identify beneficiaries, "specifically that they exclude many people who need assistance".

"While we admit that drought affects many citizens, the government will not assist people who have "some coping mechanisms, although these may be limited", which guarantee them the basic means of a livelihood," she continued.

"We, therefore, make a kind appeal to all our people that these criteria are designed to protect the lives of the most destitute and vulnerable, and to ensure that we can sustain the programme under current difficult conditions," she said.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also revealed that the government has so far spent about N$40 million towards the implementation of the drought relief programme.

The government has now transferred N$30 million to regional councils for the provision of water, while N$4,8 million was spent on the purchasing of food items to be allocated from June to August.

The government also spent N$3,3 million to purchase animal fodder, while over N$1,1 million was spent on logistics and transport costs.

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