Third of Namibians on drought aid

Government has increased the budget for drought relief to N$595.2 million and extended the state of emergency after the number of people in need of assistance rose sharply.

03 October 2019 | Disasters

More than a third of the Namibian population is dependent on drought relief, which has prompted government to extend the state of emergency to March 2020.

According to statistics from the prime minister's office, government has so far spent N$131 million of the N$572.7 million budgeted for the programme since the state of emergency was declared in May this year.

The total amount of donations pledged by private individuals, corporate entities, international organisations and foreign governments stands at N$129 million.

So far, N$57.9 million has been used to provide food aid, N$18.9 million has been spent on logistics, N$37.5 million on water provision and N$16.6 million on livestock support. During a meeting with regional governors and chief regional officers yesterday, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the initial number of beneficiaries was estimated at 42 000, based on a vulnerability assessment.

The actual figure of aid recipients now stands at 172 938.

However, after a recent review it was established that at least 908 018 Namibians in fact need drought relief. She added that because of the increase of people who need food aid and fodder assistance, the budget allocation has been increased to N$595.2 million.

“I wish to reiterate that while the relief is targeted at 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 regional level to register such households and ensure that they are supported,” she said. She added that Namibia Defence Force (NDF) trucks were used to help distribute food while at the same time N$500 000 was transferred to regional councils for the maintenance of vehicles. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added that where the NDF could not help, volunteers were recruited to assist with loading and offloading of relief supplies.

“I have taken note that availability of storage facilities is a problem in some regions. Regions were advised in such cases to identify other available government facilities ... and only where these are not available should we consider leasing private facilities,” she said. As far as water is concerned, N$37.5 million has been transferred to regional offices for water provision, while N$218 million is available from the National Emergency Disaster Fund for the provision of water.

The prime minister added that government has also removed the cap on the number of beneficiaries applying for free fodder following concerns raised at the recent town hall meetings held by President Hage Geingob. She urged regional authorities to distribute the fodder on time in order ensure successful interventions.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added that 339 farmers have claimed subsidies for fodder and supplementary licks amounting to N$343 341, while 665 farmers have claimed subsidies for livestock marketing interventions amounting to N$5 million.

A total of 35 farmers submitted subsidy claims for leasing emergency grazing totalling N$3 966, while 26 farmers submitted subsidy claims for transport to and from emergency grazing areas, amounting to N$164 274.

According to her hydroponics, which produces cattle fodder within seven days, has proven to be a valuable intervention. In response to this, government has approved a subsidy scheme to support small-scale farmers who want to venture into non-mechanised fodder production. This subsidy will cover half of the installation cost of a facility and the cost of seed.

The estimated cost of such a facility is N$10 000. She further urged farmers to consider innovations such as the bush-to-feed production system, adding that a support package will be developed under the schemes offered through the Public Funding Institutions to assist these farmers.

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