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Oshikoto gripped by hunger, drought

2023-09-20  Max Heinrich

Oshikoto gripped by hunger, drought

ν Max Henrich


ONGWEDIVA – Oshikoto region is one of the regions in Namibia facing extreme hunger and drought.

This was brought to the fore by the Onayena constituency councillor Mateus Kamati and his Eengodi constituency counterpart Protasius Neshuku, who said the dire situation has been worsened by the poor rainfall recorded this year. 

It meant most households have no harvest to store for the winter season.

“People are really suffering because they are facing hunger. I have pleaded with my community members to help out one another with food while we wait for the government to come through. I’m sure the government will not let us die from hunger,” said Kamati.

Kamati furthermore highlighted that the majority of the youth in his constituency are unemployed, even after graduating from university.

This does not help the already dire situation, he said. 

“The youth are now demoralised, no longer have hope and have opted to drinking alcohol and being at nasty places. It is really concerning because if you have the youth that is the backbone of the country suffering, then something really needs to be done. Our youth are really suffering,” lamented Kamati.

To arrest the situation, he proposed that those who work for the government and in the private sector should retire at the age of 55 to create employment for young people.  “Vacancies are frozen. They are not advertised because of the economic downturn. Companies have no money to pay new recruits,” said Kamati.

Another challenge the constituency is confronted with is poor telecommunication and road infrastructure.

“Network here is really poor especially when you go to Ambuda, Iihongo, Onamutene and Ethindi. This centres have no network signals and you cannot make any calls nor receive any while you are there,” said councillor Kamati.


Meanwhile, Oshikoto Regional Council CRO Christella Mwenyo said OPM will commence with the drought relief programme for the 2023/2024 financial year soon.

Mwenyo, in an interview with Nampa yesterday, said the council has a very limited budget to assist the constituencies at the moment.

“The OPM has planned meetings to come to all the regions to give us details on how the new drought programme is going to work, so the meeting for Oshikoto region will only be on 29 September and that is where we are going to get the new conditions of how this programme is going to work,” said Mwenyo.

She further said that as much as there are many in need, there will be strict criteria for who should be assisted and who will not receive assistance. “The OPM is going to share with us the conditions of how this programme is going to work and that’s when we are going to start implementing the drought programme,” added Mwenyo.

Neshuku in an interview with Nampa on Monday said people from his constituency come to his office at Onamishu on a daily basis complaining of hunger.

“Around two to three people always come crying at our office, asking for food,” he said.

Neshuku said he sometimes receives phone calls from people saying they do not have anything to eat at their houses.

“We rarely receive food from the governor’s office to give to our people who are really in need, thus we want our government and any Samaritan to donate food to our office,” said the constituency councillor.

National hunger

Earlier this month, the Office of the OPM announced that between July and September this year, approximately 579 000 people in Namibia are estimated to be facing high levels of acute food insecurity. 

This situation, the OPM said, requires urgent humanitarian assistance. 

When launching the 2023/2024 Livelihood Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA), OPM executive director I-Ben Nashandi said most households do not have any food stocks during the current period.  Most have also indicated that they will have stocks lasting less than one month, and those who had stocks lasting between one to three months have already depleted their food stock.

Consequently, “households have already experienced difficulties in purchasing food due to a lack of income and high unemployment rates.” It is projected to get even worse as during the period between October 2023 and March 2024, the number of people expected to experience food insecurity would further rise to 695 000, amounting to roughly 26% of the population. 

The OPM conducts annual VAA to inform policy and further aid the understanding of threats of natural and socio-economic disasters to food and nutrition security in the country. Namibia experienced below-normal and sporadic rainfalls that subjected communities to prospects of lower crop yields, impacts on livestock, and ultimately reduced household food stocks, compromising food security at household levels.

The agriculture ministry states in their crop prospects, food security and drought situation report for July 2023 that the 2022/23 estimates show that the nation has harvested 153 000 MT, which is 9% less than the harvest of 168 200 MT from the previous season (2021/22), but 23% above the 10 years’ average production of 124 200 MT.

“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,” it added. 

At regional level, the food-insecure population ranges from 15% both in the Erongo and Khomas regions, and 30% and 40% in the Kavango West and Kavango East regions, respectively.

-  Additional reporting by Nampa

2023-09-20  Max Heinrich

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