Governors briefed about drought

At a meeting with Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila last week, regional governors were instructed to kick the processes off in their respective regions.

14 May 2019 | Disasters

Regional governors were briefed about drought relief interventions being implemented by government and were urged to urgently start with the process of identification, registration and distribution of support benefits to affected communities.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, during a meeting with the governors at the close of last week, said during this year's rainy season Namibia experienced extremely poor rainfall which subsequently caused considerable delays in cultivation activities.

“When we travel the length and breadth of this country, we observe how the vegetation is subdued, the crops that were cultivated failed and the grazing conditions are extremely poor. These conditions are similar in all the regions.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the household food security in the country is as a result also negatively affected.

She said although until now people could depend on last year's harvest, the food stocks at household level are depleting as there will be no harvest to supplement, or add, to the exiting stocks.

According to her the grazing conditions deteriorated severely across the country, leaving the livelihood of animals under severe pressure.

She said the grazing and water availability for livestock continues to be a problem in many parts of the country, due to late and poor rainfall experienced since the beginning of the season, but also due to lack of perennial water flows.

“The recently concluded Food and Nutrition Security Monitoring Assessment conducted biannually since 2016 has consistently indicated that Namibia produces less than 40% of the cereals we consume.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said it is therefore clear that the livelihoods of the majority of Namibians and the livestock, especially those that depend on agricultural activities, are threatened by lack of food, water and grazing.

She said all crop-producing regions are expecting massive reduction in the expected harvest, with cereal production to reduce by 70 to 80% in the communal areas and by 15% in the commercial areas, below last season's harvest.

“The assessment also showed that the whole country is expecting a harvest reduction of at least 53% compared to last season's harvest and over 42% compared to the 20-year average production. This reduction is largely attributed to the general poor rainfall received during the 2018/19 rainfall season.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said cabinet therefore endorsed drought relief interventions valued at N$572.7 million to assist affected food insecure households and drought affected farmers in all 14 regions.

She said these interventions are aimed to ensure that no human lives are lost due to a lack of food because of the drought and also to preserve core herds for the affected farmers.

According to her the approved interventions include food assistance for the needy and drought affected, water tankers, livestock marketing incentives in the drought affected areas, transport subsidies to and from grazing areas, and transport for fodder to the drought affected farmers, especially in communal areas.

Support will also be given for the lease of grazing for the drought affected, subsidies for crop farmers, lick supplements for a core herd of 25 cattle and one bull per farmer, a fodder subsidy for a core herd of 25 cattle and one bull per farmer and a fodder/lick subsidy for a core herd of 139 small stock, plus a breeding male

“The implementation of the declared drought emergency requires immediate action.”

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said for human support they envisaged to provide per household affected, one bag of 12.5kg of maize meal, four tins of 400 g fish, and a bottle of 750ml of cooking oil per month.

According to her a communication was issued to chief regional officers, mandating them to start the identification and registration of food insecure households, according to adopted criteria.

These criteria include farmers in rural areas dependent on subsistence farming who are affected by the drought.

She said for a specific household to benefit, the monthly household income must not exceed N$2 600 during the period of the programme and the same household should not be receiving food (equivalent to government food basket) from any other source at the time of the drought relief programme.

ELLANIE SMIT

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