No record of drought related deaths

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Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob

WINDHOEK – The Omusati Region is currently one of the hardest hit region in the country, with thousands of people suffering a lack of food and a number of livestock dying due to a lack of grazing and water, Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob informed parliament yesterday in his update on the devastating drought.

Geingob said he spoke to Omusati Governor Sophia Shaningwa who identified that the water flow from Angola has also drastically reduced. Shaningwa is expected to meet with Angolan authorities at the end of this month to discuss the provision of water from Angola to Namibia.

The premier also quashed reports of deaths due to the drought saying no person has died as a result of drought and government’s distribution of drought relief in the regions is progressing well.

Geingob said he is in touch with all the regional governors on the latest drought situation and its impact on people and was informed that since the declaration of the drought emergency no governor has reported any death in their regions due to a lack of food. “I therefore would like to state that we should make a distinction between malnourishment and hunger caused by poverty and malnourishment and hunger caused by a lack of rain due to drought,” he said.

The problems with food distribution in Omusati have been resolved and the region now has 12 vehicles and two NDF trucks delivering food to people in the 12 constituencies.

In Omaheke Region, Governor Festus Uitele had informed the prime minister that Aminuis has received water, except for the delay at Otjinene due to limited drilling equipment.

Geingob said Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions have also reported good progress. It was however reported that a certain community in Kunene Region had moved back into the mountains, making it difficult to reach them with food supplies. But Geingob said plans are underway to use a helicopter to deliver food to the community in the mountains.

Authorities in the Zambezi and Ohangwena regions have also reported they were doing well in terms of food distribution, and Ohangwena Governor Usko Nghaamwa had advised the prime minister that the reported deaths in the media were ‘an old story’.

“The people who perished were from Angola since they [Angolans] are also faced with drought and they [the deceased] had crossed into Namibia,” Geingob explained, adding that had the victims crossed the border “early”, the regional government would have assisted them with food but this could not be done as they came into Namibia severely malnourished.

Water supply problems in Oshana Region are also being resolved. Hardap Region reported delays in the delivery of food but the Regional Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa had informed him that she had intervened and food is now being delivered to people in need.

Geingob said Karas Regional Governor Bernadus Swaartbooi had reported that there are several cases of malnutrition in Karas but the cases were being managed.

The prime minister did however acknowledge that there are some poor citizens suffering from malnourishment and unable to afford a balanced diet. He said that is why the government decided to add relish to drought relief food distribution, which was not done before. In August, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism announced that it would start culling wild animals at national parks as part of the national drought relief effort. This followed a directive by President Hifikepunye Pohamba to provide meat to all people who qualify for drought relief aid.

By Tonateni Shidhudhu

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