Outapi — Omusati governor Erginus Endjala yesterday revealed startling statistics that show that out of 33 930 households identified as needing drought relief assistance in the region, only 2 898 have benefited from the scheme during the months of June and July.
This means out of the registered households in the country's second most populous region - after Khomas - only 8.5 percent received food aid during the period under review.
The 2 898 households are home to 16 339 people, the governor said yesterday when addressing President Hage Geingob's town hall meeting at Outapi.
According to a report by the Office of the Prime Minister, the 2018/2019 rainy season in Omusati was extremely poor. It was characterised by delayed rainfall, sporadic and erratic rainfall patterns and frequent prolonged dry spells, which were compounded by extremely high temperatures.
As a result, crops, livestock and water supply are negatively affected in the region - pushing hordes of residents onto the edge of starvation.
The assessment report went further to indicate that the preliminary crop estimates showed a massive reduction in the anticipated harvest by 84 percent of the last season's harvest and 78 percent below average production.
The production of pearl millet that is a staple food was estimated to decrease by 85 percent of the last season and 78 percent below the average production.
Endjala added that due to the shortage of grazing in Omusati, some farmers opted to seek grazing space in Angola.
The procedures to move the animals across the border for grazing purpose are in place, he reported.
It is reported that grass bales from Angola are sold at the border as livestock fodder, a situation that poses a serious challenge to animal health authorities.
In addition, Endjala expressed sincere gratitude to President Geingob for declaring drought as an emergency for the public to access government assistance through the Disaster Risk Management Directorate under the Office of the Prime Minister.
Although a lot of assistance has been offered so far, the demand for more aid remains overwhelming.
"We, therefore, appeal to the government not only to manage risk but to build resilience through subsidy for production," stated Endjala.
President Geingob - who listened to contributions and was often seen noting down views as expressed from the floor - urged Namibians to be peaceful and work together.
"I know peace is boring [to some] but let's hold on to the peace so that we can together build our country," he advised.
The Head of State advised all Namibians to work together during this difficult period of drought and build the country onto a strong foundation.
Story authored by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Omusati Region