Namibia: Govt Expands Food Aid to Mitigate Drought

19 February 2020

Although most northern regions received high rainfall over the past few months, many residents continue to face severe food shortages and hunger.

According to the recently released integrated food security report, more than 430 000 Namibians still face severe food insecurity.

The United States embassy and the Office of the Prime Minister and the World Food Programme (WFP) have committed to expanding the drought relief food programme to about six regions over the next few months to cover for the shortfall.

US ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson confirmed this initiative during the official announcement of the expansion of the US drought assistance in Namibia to six more regions at Ondangwa, yesterday. "The United States is delivering on its promise to help Namibia through the drought. In total, over the coming months, US food and will help more than 350 000 Namibians. While Namibia is used to years of low rainfall, the last rainy season was far below average. Crops failed and livestock perished," said Johnson.

The food delivery programme is part of the N$127 million food assistance pledged by the US to Namibia to procure and deliver more than 10 000 tonnes of food assistance. It remains the largest bilateral drought assistance by a foreign government to Namibia.

Johnson further highlighted the importance of the food distribution despite the recent rainfalls in the northern part of the country as more people are still in dire need of food assistance until the first harvest.

"I am proud to say that no nation has done more than the US to help those worst affected by the drought in Namibia. The relationship between our two nations extends well beyond this initiative.

"America and Namibia are also partnering to create more business opportunities and prosperity for all our citizens, to protect wildlife from poachers, to address health concerns, and to better our citizens' lives in many ways," she said.

The food distribution started last December in the hardest-hit northern regions of Kavango East and Kavango West. The programme has now been extended to Kunene, Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Zambezi and Omaheke regions. More than 350 000 people are expected to benefit from this programme monthly.

Oshana region targets to deliver more than 85 tonnes of maize meal, beans and vegetable oil to more than 12 000 people that are affected by the drought.

Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said Namibia has been battling prolonged periods of drought in the past few years, with the drought of 2019 having been one of the most devastating.

"As a result of the negative impact that the droughts posed on human and animal livelihoods, the government has declared a state of emergency on 6 May 2019, initially for six months, but now it has been extended to 06 March. The impact of the drought includes food shortages, poor grazing, scarcity of water and lost opportunities for jobs and income due to the negative impact on crop harvests and loss of livestock," she added.

She added that the recent rains have not brought relief to all regions equally; hence some regions are still in need of animal fodder.

"Unfortunately, in some of the parts where rains were received, these have resulted in flooding which has caused loss of lives and threaten the prospects for good harvests and pose a risk of displacement of communities. We therefore need to continue to invest in resilience capacities for our communities to enable them to cope with disasters," said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

The WFP country representative, Bai Mankay Sankoh said that the entire UN family has embarked on a fundraising drive to support and complement the efforts of the government in responding to the drought.

He further commended the government for responding timely to the relief food deliveries and its continued efforts to assist those affected by the drought.

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