There is currently no ongoing drought-relief programme in either the Kavango East or West regions, the executive director in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), I-Ben Nashandi, has revealed.
He said this recently after numerous reports of looming drought due to a lack of rainfall in the past rainy season emerged.
This comes after the tragic death of 16 people due to suspected food poisoning after a homestead of about 24 people consumed poisonous porridge.
Nashandi said there is currently no ongoing drought-relief programme in the two regions, despite some residents already being affected by the drought.
He said the government usually conducts annual drought assessments to determine the availability of food after harvesting – during June and July.
“That assessment will then be able to tell us the availability of food and which areas are having less food, and where intervention is needed.”
Nashandi said each region has a regional structure of disaster risk management of which regional councillors are part, so that they can notify the regional government, which will in turn notify the OPM of famine.
“We normally rely on the regional structures to bring those suggestions to their governors so that those matters are brought to the attention of the prime minister.
“Councillors are our eyes and ears on the ground. Headmen should work in collaboration with their councillors to identify families that are struggling to be brought to the attention of the regional structure for assistance,” Nashandi says.
Rundu Rural constituency councillor Paulus Mbangu last month called on the OPM to roll out drought relief in the drought-stricken Kavango East region.
He said the OPM only provided drought relief to selected areas, such as the Kunene, Omusati, and Erongo regions.
“The reality of the matter is that the poorest of the poor are here at Rundu Rural, where we have a lot of San communities, and the food they are being given is not even enough.
“There’s no way we can put the San community in competition with other citizens of this country.
“They are supposed to be prioritised – those are the most vulnerable people. Statistical data indicates the crises on the ground, and there’s no argument about it.
“But of course, it’s just very bad that sometimes our priorities are misplaced,” Mbangu said at the time.
Last month, the Cabinet directed the OPM to provide food assistance to drought-stricken households in the //Kharas, Hardap and Omaheke regions between 1 July 2023 and 31 March 2024.
Minister of information and communications technology Peya Mushelenga announced this at a recent Cabinet meeting.
The OPM a few days ago held a workshop at Swakopmund to train master trainers of the Vulnerability and Livelihood Assessment (VAA) programme on an upcoming VAA survey to determine the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity and acute malnutrition on par with internationally recognised scientific standards.
Enumerators are expected to be deployed in the regions to collect the data on different indicators from 19 June to 7 July.