OTJIWARONGO - Almost 4 000 drought-stricken households in the Otjozondjupa Region will receive food drought assistance this month as part of the drought relief initiative managed under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
The OPM has allocated 3 905 bags of maize meal and 3 905 bottles of cooking oil as well as 15 620 cans of fish as drought relief food assistance to residents of Otjozondjupa.
The assistance is strictly for those making their living through farming as the drought has affected them the most, explained Veronica Richter, the Otjozondjupa field coordinator for disaster risk management.
Additional selection criteria stipulate that qualifying households must have a monthly household income of less than N$2,600.
Each household that qualify under the Otjozondjupa food insecure registration will receive one bottle of cooking oil, one bag of maize meal and four cans of fish this month with additional food assistance to be allocated during each month of the drought relief programme.
According to Richter, the scarcity of rain has left 10 712 households in Otjozondjupa food insecure this year, with the highest number in Omatako, Okakarara and Tsumkwe constituencies.
As of May 2019, the total number of Otjozondjupa households qualifying for food drought relief aid totalled 1 322 households in Okakarara Constituency, 1 306 in Tsumkwe Constituency, 171 in Otjiwarongo Constituency, 385 in Omatako Constituency, 59 in Okahandja Constituency, 400 in Otavi Constituency and 263 in Grootfontein Constituency.
Richter said the region’s high number of drought-affected residents had led to a drastic cut from what is normally given to farmers in drought aid. She added that Otjozondjupa Regional Council leaders selected recipients based on those who were the most severely affected by the drought.
“I recommend that a thorough assessment in all Otjozondjupa constituencies be done so that we have an exact number of affected people. Once we have that number we can appeal for more and see how any gaps can be filled,” Richter said to Otjozondjupa government officials at a drought assistance briefing yesterday at the Otjozondjupa Regional Council.
The maize meal will be delivered by a wholesaler in the Zambezi Region, while the tinned fish by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. All cooking oil will be sourced from Metro Cash & Carry in Otjiwarongo. A team of Namibian Defence Force (NDF) officers led by squadron leader Rinhold Nangolo will manage the food distribution.
The commodities will be stored at an NDF warehouse in Otavi which the force availed for use at no cost to the region. Four NDF trucks have been allocated for the distribution process.
Otjozondjupa Governor Otto Ipinge applauded the NDF for contributing its Otavi warehouse as an example of how different branches of government should work together, but also cautioned against mismanagement of the drought relief food.
“I don’t want to hear of food getting rotten in warehouses. And I don’t want to read in the papers about anyone dying because of drought. We have to make sure everyone who needs it gets it,” said Ipinge.
*This article was contributed by Kaylan Shipanga, an information officer with the Ministry of Information Otjozondjupa regional office.