Agriculture Minister John Mutorwa expects Cabinet to finalise its recommendations on a revised drought relief food scheme this week or at the latest by next week and will thereafter inform the public accordingly.
The agriculture, water and forestry minister said this yesterday in response to a question during a news conference on the establishment of a new and more representative national committee on the sub-division of agricultural land (Nacosdal) in commercial areas.
It is expected Cabinet’s recommendations will result in a new drought relief regime very soon to be implemented by the Office of the Prime Minister’s (OPM) Emergency and Disaster Management Unit in light of the ever-deteriorating food security and grazing situation in most of the regions.
The previous programme, that officially ended on March 31, however, remains in force with food stock assistance and financial aid to bridge the gap between the just-ended programme and the start of the new proramme.
Mutorwa confirmed that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) has completed its countrywide survey and submitted it to Cabinet for final approval by latest next week.
People in all regions were interviewed by fieldworkers of the MAWF and the OPM to assess the needs of the people during the severe drought. It is estimated some 500 000 Namibians are now dependent on government’s food aid.
The expected announcement will come at a time when household food security continues to worsen in various regions, as most households are reported to have depleted last season’s harvest and are now utterly dependent on the market and the government’s drought relief food programme for access to nutrition.
Households have noted that the supply of drought relief food is inadequate, given the number of food-insecure people in the north-central and northeast regions. They also noted that drought relief food distribution often takes too long to come to households’ rescue and only targets certain households, who are regarded as most vulnerable.
The offices of regional councils in some regions have confirmed that the supplies of drought relief food items received in the regions are insufficient, compared to the number of people that are food-insecure.
Many farmers reported that due to the drought conditions, which are seemingly continuing unabated since the previous season, there would be no significant improvement in household food security this season.
Announcing the new national committee on sub-division of agricultural land, Mutorwa stressed the importance of the committee being governed by law, saying a very challenging task awaits the committee, as mining, tourism and urban and rural land development all play a part in the sub-division of land.
“Therefore, the new committee is now represented by not only experts from the MAWF, but also experts from the ministries of land reform, urban and rural development, environment and tourism and the Office of the Attorney General,” he noted.
Acting permanent secretary of the MAWF Sophia Kasheeta was elected chairperson of the committee. Other members include Mesag Mulunga, Mildred Kambinda, Issasskar Mate and Pauline Mufeti (all from MAWF), as well as Kaspar Iita (Ministry of Land Reform) and Theresia Aiyambo (Ministry of Urban and Rural Development).
Members of the Nacosdal Secretariat are Ben Haraseb (deputy director of MAWF in Khomas Region), David Lisulo and George Rhodes (MAWF Plant Health) and James Nzehengwa (Directorate of Agricultural Production, Extension and Engineering Services, MAWF).