Namibia: Drought Relief Programme to Be Launched Next Month

The Prime Minister, Hon Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, asserted that to address the circumstances of drought and food insecurity, the government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, will launch a drought relief programme effective from 01 October 2023 to June 2024.

The Prime Minister announced this on Tuesday when she briefed the Parliament on the outcomes of the Annual Livelihood Vulnerability Assessments and Analyses (VAA) that her office conducted in all 14 regions from May to July this year, as required by Section 13 of the Disaster Risk Management Act, 2012 (Act No. 10 of 2012).

The assessments gathered and analyzed data on livelihood and food security for the 2023/24 period to inform policy and assist in understanding the threats of natural and socioeconomic disasters to food and nutrition security.

Moreover, staff from government offices, ministries, and agencies (OMAs), regional councils, local authorities, civic society organizations (Namibia Red Cross Society), the University of Namibia, and United Nations agencies (FAO, WFP, UNDP, WHO, and UNICEF) participated in the assessment.

The food relief programme, set to roll out next month, will provide food assistance and water to drought-affected households countrywide.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister stated that the Livestock Support Programme, which incorporates livestock marketing incentives and subsidies for fodder purchased, grazing leases, and transportation to grazing areas, will be implemented from the beginning of next month through March 2024.

Meanwhile, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stated that existing social safety net programmes like the San Development Programme, which provides food assistance to marginalized communities, and the Conditional Food Bank in urban areas would continue to serve areas where the drought programme was unable to reach.

She also highlighted that regarding the prevailing malnutrition cases in the country, the Ministry of Health and Social Services would continue with the nutrition programme intended for assessing acute malnourished persons and refer diagnosed cases to existing feeding programmes.

She said that the programme would cost the government N$892.4 million.

"The VAA's key findings are as follows: Between October 2023 and March 2024, approximately 695,000 people (equal to about 172,000 households) are likely to endure severe acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. When rainfall conditions improve between March and June 2024, a 7% reduction to 491,000 people is expected," she said.

According to the Namibia Meteorological Services 2022/2023 seasonal report, Namibia experienced below-normal and sporadic rainfalls which culminated in a combination of flash floods and dry spells in some parts of the country.

"With the anticipated El Niño, which is likely to affect us during the 2023/24 agricultural season, the situation in the country will be negatively affected due to more dry and limited rainfall, which could put food security in the country at risk."

"This has subjected communities to prospects of lower crop yields, impacts on livestock, and ultimately reduced household food stocks, compromising food security at household levels," according to her.

She further noted that poor grazing conditions in most regions affect livestock body conditions. 2022/23 crop prospects show 153,000 MT harvest, 9% less than 168,200 MT from the previous season, indicating poor livestock conditions, she said.

The assessment indicated that 85% of the population obtains water from private and public taps, while 7% comes from boreholes. Additionally, 76.4% of the population walks less than 2.5 km to water points, with 5.6% walking more than 5 km, particularly in Kavango West, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Zambezi regions.

"On the reported cases of hunger among the marginalized Ovatjimba communities in Otjikojo, a village located 25km west of Okangwati in the Kunene region, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has provided the food assistance required. This intervention was necessary, and the government would act promptly to address such vulnerabilities," she said.

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