THE livelihood and access to safe and nutritious food of more than a third of Namibians in especially the rural areas of the country has been severely affected by the current drought situation.
According to a statement about the latest Cabinet decisions by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology 712 138 people or the equivalent of 146 047 households are currently affected by the drought and looming hunger.
According to the Namibian Vulnerability Assessment Committee Report the number is however expected to rise even further over the next year.
During its 14th sitting Cabinet approved the implementation of the short and long-term interventions for people and livestock as indicated in the latest Vulnerability Assessment Report.
Besides approving the interventions the cost implications and incorporation of the proposed interventions must be reviewed and form part of Strategic Annual Plans of implementation by the various offices, ministries and agencies.
These interventions include direct interventions such as food relief to drought affected communities.
Short-term interventions approved by Cabinet are to continue with food assistance with adjustment of the upward adjustment of the number of beneficiaries as per regional registrations and to scale up nutritional support. The Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry were tasked with these interventions.
The decision to decentralise the functions of Livelihood Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Monitoring to Regional Councils and Local Authorities was also approved. Water and sanitation provision were also made the responsibility of Regional and Local Authority Councils
In the same vein Cabinet decided to build the capacity of community health workers of the health ministry to screen children under five years of age for malnutrition and provide health and nutrition education to communities.
In this regard the Office of The Prime Minister Agencies must also provide supplementary food during humanitarian response operations which would include fortified food to improve the intake of micronutrients. Health workers must also encourage people through information, education and communication the good practices of maternal and child care and nutrition.
In the medium and long-term Cabinet decided and approved that interventions must include the strengthening of social safety nets by the Government and its relevant stake holders. These interventions should be supported the country’s development partners and the private sector.
Cost effective livestock feed production schemes must be developed and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Agro Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) and the Agriculture Business Development (Agribusdev) and other private partners
The agriculture ministry and partners like the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) and institutions of higher learning must also improve agricultural research on crops and livestock to include issues of climate change and drought resistant products and develop and implement water conservation plans and efficient use of water to be carried out.