Aid Flows to Mariental

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Government aid and humanitarian assistance from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has been streaming in for those affected by the floods at Mariental. While Government last Friday provided N$10 million for infrastructure repairs, more aid came from other agencies and businesses. The Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) Secretary General Razia Essack-Kauaria yesterday told New Era that though the response was not optimal at the beginning, it grew considerably after President Pohamba’s visit to Mariental. Through the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, a truck carrying at least 100 waterproof tents and other sanitary equipment is expected this week from Harare, Zimbabwe. Last Thursday, the Namibia Red Cross sent 10 boxes of water purification sachets, while 150 more boxes arrived during the weekend from South Africa where they were purchased. Though she could not state the number, jerry cans and plastic sheets have also been given out to the victims. On Friday, Namibia Red Cross gave 300 blankets to Government for distribution, and mosquito nets have also been distributed to 2 000 households at the town. “In 2002, ten people died of malaria and this year only four have been reported dead. We are also distributing mosquito nets,” she stated. Two international water sanitation experts from Zambia and Zimbabwe travelled to Mariental at the weekend to help with the water purification. “We are monitoring the situation. The urgent things needed include shelter, proper health information and the hidden aspect of psychological trauma that calls for counselling,” said Essack-Kauaria. Local businesses have also come out in numbers in response to the plight of Mariental residents. Last Friday, as part of its corporate social responsibility, Pupkewitz Group Namibia responded to the Namibia Red Cross flood relief appeal by donating N$10 000. Group Chief Executive Officer Harold Pupkewitz said this year the country has been blessed with exceptional rains, but these have brought with them problems of flooding and distress to many Namibians. “Under the leadership of Mrs Razia Kauaria, (who) has the capacity to react quickly in such emergencies, (we) are pleased to have the opportunity to support their good work through this donation of N$10 000 which we know will be put to good use,” he said. The donation comes from an annual grant from the Pupkewitz Foundation. The grant was established four years ago with the main aim of assisting the distressed and needy in society through agencies best placed to make effective use of the money. Pupkewitz challenges the business community in the country to show their social responsibility and assist those who have fallen victim of the floods. “We hope this will be an example to the business community. There are many successful businesses in the country,” stated Pupkewitz. While more requests for food are flooding the Red Cross as confirmed by Kauaria, Agra mid last week donated one tonne of maize-meal to the Mariental Emergency Committee. “This forms part of Agra’s contribution to help the Mariental flood victims and is intended for the about 800 people from the surrounding area who have found shelter in town. These include amongst others workers from some surrounding farms, the Hardap Scheme, Hardap workers, domestic workers and children,” indicated Agra Marketing Manager Birgit Hoffmann. Agra Branch Manager Michael Steenkamp says, “like many others in Mariental, we have been working nearly around the clock to help our clients and farmers by ensuring that we have enough fuel and that our store is well stocked, so that we can serve the community during these trying times.” Last week, Agra representatives attended the farmers’ meeting held at the Hardap Regional Research Centre to learn more about the challenges and needs of the farming community as well as to show their support. At the meeting, farmers presented their needs and according to Steenkamp, “we will endeavour to assist the farmers and their workers within our means where needed most”. The branch has already offered storage facilities to its members, and many people make use of it to store their furniture and belongings while they clean up their homes.