ALOMOST a million Namibians face hunger as the number of households listed by the government as beneficiaries for drought relief, increased from 42 000 to a staggering 172 938 because the worst drought in 90 years continues to ravage communities throughout the country.
This was revealed by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who held a meeting with regional governors and chief regional officers to unpack the implementation of the drought relief programme, the success and challenges, and how to overcome any challenges experienced.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila noted that when the programme started, the estimated number of household beneficiaries were 42 000 according the vulnerability assessment. This process was later followed by the identification of beneficiaries, based on the set qualifying criteria, which produced a higher number of qualifying households to stand at 172 938 of the drought relief program.
From September 2019, the food distribution to regions is based on this new number of beneficiaries. About 908 018 individual persons are covered under this increased figure of qualifying household.
The implementation of the drought relief programme commenced at national level in June 2019, following the declaration of the State of Emergency: National Disaster by President Hage Geingob on 06 May 2019.
As is procedure, the National Assembly extended the period of the emergency for six months.
Kuugongelwa stated that this period of six month will lapse on 5 October 2019 and as such she will table a motivation in the National Assembly to extend the period by a further six months, to 5 March 2020.
“We have noted that the climatic conditions continue to be unfavorable, with negative effects on our communities, and on the livestock, as the grazing conditions continue to deteriorate. As we are entering the next phase of this disaster, our focus will remain on saving lives and also on investing in building resilience, so that we reduce the vulnerability of our communities and our economy to the effects of future droughts.” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said.
The drought relief intervention was started with an initial budget of N$572.7 million. The programme aims to disburse this amount to Food Provision estimated to cost N$120,127,300; Logistics at N$24,000,000, Water Services at N$290,500,000 and Livestock Support given a total N$ 138,072,700.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stated that to date N$37.5 million was transferred to various Regional Councils to ensure speedy implementation of the Water Provision program with139 boreholes and water points in the process of being rehabilitated with these funds.
She however noted that there are still challenges faced within the regions for water support, and a totalN$218 million is availed from the National Emergency Disaster Fund for provision of water.
Kuugongelwa stated that a total amount of N$131 million has been spent and committed toward drought relief expenses namely, Food provision N$57.9 million, Logistics: N$18.9 million; Water Provision: N$37.5 million and Livestock Support: N$16.6 millio.
The minister however stated that with the the increase in the number of beneficiaries for food relief and fodder, as well as the additional interventions, the budget allocation for drought has increased to N$595.2 million, an increase of around N$20 million.