Private sector opens purses for drought relief

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From left, Frans Hinamwami a union branch representative, Abed Imene member of the workers committee, Ronnie Jenniker the chairperson of the workers committee, Costa Liyemo union representative, Cleophas Mutjavikua governor of Erongo Region, Samuel Christopha workers committee member, Udo Johr workers committee member, and Dirk van Niekerk the managing director of Kraatz Marine.

WINDHOEK – The private sector has thus far donated N$8 million in cash to the national drought relief programme, since the declaration of the drought as a national emergency in May this year. The amount was confirmed by the Director for Disaster Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister, Japhet Iitenge, in an interview this week. The cash amount does not include the N$100 million worth of relief aid pledged by the South African President Jacob Zuma, during his state visit a fortnight ago.

“The cash we received stood at N$5.6 million but recently we also received a cash donation from Bank of Namibia, which translates to N$8.1 million in total. This is the amount we have registered in our books as cash donations. Other pledges, including Zuma’s have not yet been registered in the books of the directorate,” Iitenge explained.

The devastating drought has already killed thousands of large and small livestock and has affected more 400 000 people countrywide.

The N$8.1 million in cash donations has been pledged by both local and international companies and institutions including the Namibia Teachers’ Union of Namibia (Nantu), Embassy of Turkey to Namibia, Erongo Med, Embassy of China to Namibia, Marco Fishing, Hefdy Group, High Commission of India to Namibia, Head of African Mission, Agribank, Swakop Uranium Trust, Dundee Precious Metals and Bank of Namibia.

Iitenge said food donations also made a significant impact assisting government with the provision of relish to affected communities. Government is supplying maize meal, cooking oil and relish to households. “During the first distribution, the government did not include relish. But when the donations of relish started pouring in, people are now receiving relish every month with maize meal,” he said.

To augument the provision of relish, government has authorised the hunting of wild animals from the national parks and conservancies, and is buying tinned fish as well as processed meat from abattoirs. “Government also availed quotas to fishing companies in return for tinned fish and beans,” he said.

Regions with high rural populations, such as Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West, Ohangwena, Kunene, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana and Omusati have received a significant portion of relief food. “We are feeding 60 000 people in these regions. We started in August and our focus is until March next year. For these regions, we are giving 60 000 bags of maize meal of 2.5 kilogramme per month,” he said.

At the same time, Iitenge noted that regions with low rural populations such as Erongo, Hardap, Khomas, //Karas and Otjozondjupa are given food according to registered beneficiaries in their constituencies.

Earlier government assessments found that aproximately one third of Namibia’s entire population is now classified as food insecure. Of these, more than 330 000 people were in need of urgent support when the drought was declared as a state of emergency on May 17.

A prolonged dry season has resulted in widespread crop failure across the length and breadth of the country. The government estimates that the 2013 harvest will produce 42 per cent less than the 2012 harvest. An estimated 4 000 livestock have died.

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