Windhoek — Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila says government is determined that no one dies of hunger and is therefore calling on everyone to come on board and voluntary contribute towards the drought relief programme.
"As we are entering the next phase of this [drought] disaster, our focus will remain on saving lives and also on investing in building resilience, so that we reduce the vulnerability of our communities and our economy to the effects of future droughts," she noted.
This is contrary to media reports that there have been numerous cases of malnutrition reported in some regions.
The Director of Health in Kunene Region Thomas Shapumba said malnutrition in Kunene is expected, given the prolonged years of drought stretching over five years.
However, Shapumba said many of the patients diagnosed with malnutrition are mostly Angolan nationals who flock to the region in search for jobs.
Shapumba confirmed that they have cases of malnutrition, but said he was not at liberty to dwell on the statistics.
New Era last week reported on the death of a child as a result of malnutrition in Amarika, Omusati Region at the end of last month.
Another child at the same village is reported to have died of malnutrition recently.
In addition to the deaths, several other children are said to be on treatment.
New Era enquired what government is doing to ensure cases of malnutrition are contained, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday responded that food security at household level has always been a concern for government.
"We have received information that we do have cases of malnutrition reported at state facilities and they are being dealt with in a number of regions. What we don't have is a case that just because of drought, a person has not been assisted and as a result has lost died," she noted.
According to her, that's why there is a "government" to promote nutrition. She maintained there is a programme spearheaded by the ministry of health, to ensure persons suspected to be suffering from malnutrition are taken care of at state hospitals.
She said during the drought period, government assists affected people with food rations, while through the rest of the year, they can be assisted by the ministry of poverty eradication's food bank.
She said when the drought relief programme started, the estimated number of household beneficiaries were 42,000, according to the vulnerability assessment.
This process was later followed by the identification of beneficiaries, based on the set qualifying criteria, which produced a higher number of qualifying households to stand at 172,938.
From September 2019, the food distribution to regions is based on this new number of beneficiaries. About 908,018 individual persons are covered under this increased figure of qualifying beneficiaries.
"I wish to reiterate that while the relief is targeted to those who meet the criteria, where households do not fall within the criteria, but their food security is under threat, it is the responsibility of the authorities at the regional level to register such households and ensure that they are supported," she appealed.
She advised the records of such cases must be maintained at each regional council for verification, and valid reasons must be documented on their situation that necessitated the drought relief support.
The same goes for the rations to be provided to households, adding where circumstances dictate, the size of the food ration should be increased to make sure that those needing special support do get that.