Kunene Regional Governor Angelika Muharukua said the northwestern region needs urgent humanitarian aid in the form of increased drought relief food and animal feed, as well as water, if further deaths of both animals and humans are to be averted.
She told New Era yesterday that she plans to write a letter to Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to ask government to urgently come to the people’s aid by increasing food rations,as the current drought relief rations are insufficient.
Governor Muharukua said not everyone in Kunene Region is receiving drought relief food currently; hence there is an urgent need to distribute the food aid more widely.
“I couldn’t even count the number of animals. The animals have been dying of drought over the years. The cattle are dying. There is no rain and people are hungry. I don’t know how we will go about it, but I will talk to my colleague [Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John] Mutorwa to see how we can assist farmers,” she said.
Putting a human face to the devastating drought, she said the recent tragic incident, wherein seven young victims in the region died in Oshakati State Hospital after reportedly eating toxic porridge is testimony to the gravity of the situation. It is suspected the porridge, which was prepared by the children while their guardians were out ploughing, was toxic.
It is believed when the children saw that the porridge was too thin, they added the sediment of traditional beer, not knowing it could be a toxic substance, as everybody has their own recipe and some fortify the brew for a stronger effect.
“Even those people went to eat the poisoned food because of hunger. You know that. Now you are asking Meme Muharuakua… to say what? We didn’t get any rain in the whole region. We only saw the floods that came to kill the people,” the governor said. Despite the fact many farming areas in the country received good rains over the past few weeks, the Kunene Region continues to endure the dry spell, with many households now unable to put a meal on the table and thousands of livestock left to die due to the persistent drought.
To add to the troubles in the drought-ravaged region, eight people were killed when a vehicle was swept away by a flooded river near Opuwo last month.
The two children, Vision Muhenye, 4, and Operi Muhenye, 5, from Kamanjab died in the accident along with Frans Manjara, Maetusiepi Mbinge, Tjireja Efraim, 5, Uapingena Thoma, Patricia Karumuani Tjindinda and Judith Mweliimbange Hamukwaya. Tjindunda and Hamukwaya were health extension workers at Opuwo District Hospital. They were traveling from Opuwo to Okanguati when theToyota double-cab they were in was swept away.