Bad roads thwart drought relief delivery

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…As Kunene tries to feed over 200 000 hungry residents

Oshakati

The majority of drought affected communities in Kunene Region are unlikely to benefit from drought relief food as they are still unregistered by the authorities due to inaccessibility blamed on poor roads.

With only 32 000 people recorded so far, Kunene Governor Angelika Muharukua in a very emotional statement said the bad roads in the region are making it difficult to reach all drought-affected communities.

Omusati Region has registered 141 453 people in need of drought food while Oshana Region has 19 537. The numbers keep increasing.

Statistics for Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions were not presented at the Disaster Risk Management Committee meeting between the Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the governors of the affected northern regions, councillors and the disaster committee members.

Muharukua informed the meeting that people in Kunene are currently wallowing in absolute poverty because the drought-prone north-western region has suffered four consecutive years of drought. The most affected are the Ovatue and San communities representing 6 000 people in need of food.

“Kunene is the worst. There is no rich or poor because even those who had animals have lost their livestock,” said Muharukua.

The deputy prime minister assured Muharukua that the government is hard at work to ensure the needs of every affected individual are met.

Similarly, Nandi-Ndaitwah reminded the disaster committee members that government’s efforts would only be effective “if everyone involved is committed”.

Nandi-Ndaitwah urged committee members to be as factual as possible.  She further urged them to refrain from creating a false impression when registering affected communities, which would hinder proper planning.

“If you get wrong information you can never get it right – you can only get it right when you get the correct information.  We are asking you to impress upon people we are working with to give us the right information, otherwise you will make people suffer when they are not supposed to suffer,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.

In addition, she urged the committee to sensitize the public on their role and to oversee the implementation of the Disaster and Risk Management Act, instead of dealing with drought in isolation.

“Colleagues, don’t just think of drought and flood when you have committed yourself to this committee,” further urged Nandi-Ndaitwah.

She also exhorted those who collect drought relief food from the warehouses to ensure they have distribution plans and available transport upon collection to ensure the food reaches those in need.

“Collect when it is time to distribute – and transport for distribution should be in place,” further stated the deputy prime minister.

“When you take your stock from the warehouse – how long does it take to get to the end user? Take the food when you know how you are going to distribute it and when you have transport,” she said.

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