THE Japanese government yesterday gave Namibia N$1,2 million for drought relief projects in the Kunene region.
According to the Japanese government, the funds are meant to benefit 480 households in the Kunene region to improve their access to clean and safe water with the rehabilitation of 16 water points, distribution of purification tablets and water storage containers, as well as conducting training on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and malnutrition surveillance.
The signing ceremony for the funds took place at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) yesterday.
Japanese ambassador to Namibia Hideaki Harada signed the contract with Rosa Presendt, chairperson of the Namibia Red Cross Society. Present at the signing was Chief Samuel Ankama, the deputy minister in the OPM. The funding is granted through Japan's Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).
In a statement, Izumi Ogawa, second secretary of the Japanese embassy in Namibia, said the extremely poor rainfall in the year 2018/19 caused a severe drought, which enormously affected water availability and the harvesting of crops.
"To address this concern, the president of Namibia declared a drought emergency on 6 May 2019. In the same vein, the Office of the Prime Minister launched the drought response plan to reduce or mitigate the danger of serious harm or damage to property for the period of April 2019 to March 2020.
"Despite the endeavours of the government of Namibia, it is still challenging for all the necessary interventions to be rolled out to the drought-affected communities due to the increase of the number of beneficiaries identified and the cost escalation," Ogawa said.
The GGP aims to bring about a direct and immediate impact on the well-being of disadvantaged communities at the grassroots level by supporting relatively small development projects such as health, education and agriculture to be implemented by non-profit organisations and local authorities.
"The government of Japan has been implementing the GGP in Namibia since 1997. To date, 54 projects have been supported, amounting to approximately N$37,5 million," Ogawa said.
Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila told parliament recently that the government spent N$131 million on drought relief, with an extra N$129 million to spare for farmers and families affected.
She made these remarks after tabling a motion for the state of emergency to be extended until 5 March next year.
The prolonged drought warrants extension, as the livelihood of people and livestock has been negatively affected.