ONDANGWA – The US embassy yesterday extended its food assistance programme to six more regions that will see over 46 000 drought-stricken Namibians benefiting in the coming months.
At the moment, 306 000 Namibians are already benefiting from the programme, which is being implemented in partnership with the World Food Programme. The extension runs for the next four months.
The assistance is part of the US$8.6 million (N$127 million) the US government has committed itself to provide food assistance to drought-stricken Namibians. According to the recent Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, led by the Namibian government, more than 430 000 Namibians face acute food insecurity.
The programme started in Kavango East and West in December last year, and has now been extended to Oshana, Omusati, Kunene, Oshikoto, Zambezi and the Omaheke regions. In Oshana, 12 000 beneficiaries of the 379 000 drought affected beneficiaries in the region will benefit from the programme. The region received 85 metric tonnes of food, including maize meal, beans and vegetable oil. The US Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson pledged her country’s continued food assistance support.
“We will ensure that food assistance for drought relief goes to those who need it the most,” said Johnson, while delivering food aid to affected communities in northern Namibia yesterday.
In addition to providing food assistance, World Food Programme Country Director in Namibia BaiMankay Sankoh said the support will create temporary jobs to Namibian youth in the regions of implementation. It is estimated that over 300 paid volunteers will be engaged in the programme of which 50 are from the Oshana. Further jobs will also be created through the supply chain. Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila implored the beneficiaries to work with the implementing bodies to ensure that the support reaches the people as intended. Kuugongelwa-Amadhila further said that the state of emergency on drought, which was extended in May last year, has been extended to 6 March.
To date, the prime minister said until the end of January this year, government through its drought relief programme in the country benefits over 172 000 households monthly.
This is an addition to the provision of water through various means at a cost of N$249.7 million through water tanks services, rehabilitation and drilling of boreholes and the extension of water pipes to new water areas. In addition, government has also provided fodder and different subsidies to livestock farmers at a cost of over N$20 million. The prime minister further said although some regions have received sufficient rainfall resulting in improved grazing conditions, other areas are still to receive rainfall thus have asked the increase in the fodder supply.
“In some of the parts where rain is received, this has resulted in flooding which has caused loss of lives and threaten the prospects for good harvest and posing a risk of displacement of communities,” said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.