WINDHOEK – The private emergency drought aid programme of stalwart Summerdown/Steinhausen rancher Henriëtte le Grange was rocked to its foundation when it was discovered that some of the recipients from the Maltahὅhe area had sold their bales of free lucerne they received for as little as N$20 per bale while their animals are starving to death in one of the worst droughts in history in the South. Lucerne now sells for close to N$120 per bale on average.
The scurrilous behaviour of some of the recipients was uncovered after the Namibia Farmers Drought Aid Programme had reached out to 221 drought-stricken farmers and close to 95 000 animals with cash donations of more than N$500 000 and some 2 500 bales of lucerne and hay.
Le Grange got the shock of her life when it came to light that many of the last batch of more than 800 bales of lucerne that was transported from Grootfontein were sold for as little as N$20 per bale by the recipients who pleaded poverty and claimed their animals were dying like flies due to the severity of the drought. Le Grange, who has become known as the “Mother Theresa of the South” due to her selfless work since the drought of 2013, says the scandal was uncovered while she is still busy trying to work through some 300 fresh applications of farmers in dire straits.
“It was with shock and horror and disbelief that I learned about the abominable behaviour of some of these recipients. It leaves me speechless to think that people can sell drought aid food and turn a blind eye to the suffering of their neighbours and their animals. This behaviour has made potential donors sceptical about the honesty of some of the recipients and this has also complicated my work. I have to now sift through the somewhat 300 new applications I have received in the past two weeks and make sure this kind of disgraceful behaviour does not happen again,” she laments.
Despite that, the programme is going full-steam ahead and le Grange reassures farmers in need that lucerne, hay and mixed pellets will be sourced from the Grootfontein/Tsumeb areas as soon as possible. “The situation for southern farmers is just getting worse and soon they will have to face a long and cold winter as well. We will not allow the disgraceful behaviour of some recipients to derail this effort and all our hard work. We have to help those farmers as they simply cannot help themselves anymore,” she stresses. She says the incident has made potential sponsors and donors wary, but she is confident that relief will come soon to the many farmers losing animals on a daily basis. Fodder for these farmers is still available from the Grootfontein/Tsumeb areas but sponsors for diesel and trucks must be found. Recently, the fund also raised N$92 000 by selling street corners in Windhoek and 19 more communal farmers were given more than 800 bales of lucerne and mixed pellets.
Le Grange says she and her team have secured fodder but are still looking for fuel sponsors for their truck running from Grootfontein to the South. “Lucerne is still available at N$115 per bale from Grootfontein and Tsumeb but to land it in the south will mean the price shoots up to N$155 per bale and that math just does not make sense if we have to pay for diesel as well,” she laments.
A total of 221 farmers from Keetmanshoop, Grünau, Kὅes, Bethanie, Karasburg, Maltahὅhe and Aroab have benefited significantly from the programme. All of them agreed that they are in dire need of fodder as well as cash to support their families and pay school fees.
2019-03-25 09:03:35 5 months ago