Parched by a severe dry spell for nearly eight years, many parts of Kunene are still struggling with drought and hunger amid an urgent need for water and food relief supplies.
Drought in some parts of Ruacana and Kunene is predicted to persist if no rainfall is received this month. Due to a lack of rainfall in the affected areas, crops have dried up while serious losses of livestock are being experienced by farmers across the region on a daily basis.
In addition to Kunene and west of Omusati, Omatjete and Okombahe in the Daures constituency in the Erongo region are some of the areas already experiencing drought, executive director in the Office of the Prime Minister I-Ben Nashandi revealed yesterday.
He said Kunene remains the hardest hit. Although the country is predicted to receive average to good rainfall this year, Nashandi said the affected areas have received little to no rainfall since the start of the rainy season. Farmers who had worked their crop fields have also suffered heavy losses as crops dry up. “We need massive rain for this situation to change.
Apart from the affected crops, animals there have already started dying according to the overview assessment done this year,” said Nashandi.
Last year’s livelihood assessment indicates that over 495 000 were found to be food insecure especially the marginalised and communities that were hard-hit by the 2019 drought. Nashandi was speaking during an interview with New Era after the official opening of the National Food and Nutrition Security workshop at Ongwediva yesterday. The workshop is aimed at reviewing the food and nutrition security policy of 1995. Kunene acting chief regional officer Joseph Jantze attested that most parts of the region have not received rain. As a result, many people have completely run out of food while animals have started dying in that part of the country.
Jantze said only the Outjo area has received rain, however, many areas remain completely dry to date. Some of the affected people were given food already this year through the Office of the Prime Minister. In Omusati, the constituency councillor for Ruacana constituency Andreas Shintama said there is a dire need of food for the affected people. Like Kunene, Ruacana only received a few showers at the start of the rainy season and as such a big number of inhabitants are badly affected. He said those who had started to work on their crop fields have lost hope as their crops have started to die. “The people need a food boost as there is nothing in their crop fields. If it doesn’t rain, there is really no hope for any harvest this year,” said Shintama. The councillor, who also doubles as the chairperson of the Omusati Regional Council, said Onesi, Tsandi, Okahao and part of the Outapi constituency is also affected as they have also not received sufficient rainfall.
Oshana governor Elia Irimari in his address said food and nutrition security is central to government efforts in achieving sustainable economic growth as well as inclusive and dignified livelihoods for the people.
“This food security policy intervention indicates the government’s political will to place food and nutrition security high on its developmental agenda as well as its commitment to eradicating poverty and hunger,” said Irimari.
Irimari said the government has invested significantly in the agricultural sector and has through dedicated programmes ensured safety nets to safeguard the most vulnerable members.
Despite the efforts made, Irimari stressed that much still needs to be done to increase agricultural production in order to warrant food and nutrition security for all.