Red Cross in dire need of funds to supply drought aid

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Looking for a bite…Cattle roaming the streets of Ondangwa in search of grass or anything else to eat.

Windhoek

The Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) has only received about 15 percent of the N$14 million it needs from international donors to bring relief to more than 560 000 Namibians being plagued by the worst combination of climatic and man-made drought spells in 80 years.

“The Namibian Red Cross Society is not able to deliver planned drought relief in the regions due, in part, to a lack of funding from international donors who are currently focused on the migrant situation across Europe. However, support from within Namibia itself is also lacking,” said Bruce Siyambango, the head of disaster management at the NRCS.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an Emergency Appeal of about N$14 million for Namibia in December 2015.

It aims to meet the food security needs of 11 500 people affected by the drought, but it is only 15 percent funded and only 1 200 people are being supported. The Namibia Red Cross Society has also launched a three-month campaign called ‘Namibian Helping Namibians’, intended to raise funds from citizens as well as the private sector to support drought-related activities.

Two weeks ago, the government announced a new drought food aid relief programme of  N$90 million, which will run until the end of July whereafter another assessment will be done.

The Red Cross Society’s Emergency Appeal has been extended until the end of July in an attempt to attract more funding, and assist more people affected by the drought.

Germany, through the Namibian-German Special Initiative Project (NGSIP), is to spend more than N$117 million in the drought-stricken Kunene Region before the end of the year.

Targeting the most vulnerable people in seven regions, the project has since its inception uplifted communities through a wide-ranging programme in the Erongo, Hardap, //Karas, Khomas, Kunene, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions.

“Kunene’s climatic drought is caused by too little rain. The areas around Outjo, Kamanjab, Khorixas and south of Sesfontein received too little rain. On the other hand, the northern Kunene received a lot of rain. But only the mopane/omusati is green; there is no grass. Grazing cattle destroyed the grass sward long ago and now all the rain in the world will not make it grow again. The green mopane reflects the good rainfall. The hungry people reflect the broken grass sward, destroyed by injudicious grazing. The northern Kunene suffers a man-made drought,” says Namibia’s foremost drought expert and independent consultant, Dr Axel Rothauge.

Rates of malnutrition, already above the accepted threshold, are rising in Namibia.

At least 16 percent of the population needs urgent food support.

Namibia is currently experiencing chronic food insecurity as a result of drought due to abnormally low rainfall between October 2014 and February 2016.

The more than 88 000 inhabitants of Kunene are severely affected by drought and many are said to be drowning in poverty and dying, yet only 3 000 people have been registered for the drought relief food programme.

Angelika Muharukua, the Governor of Kunene Region, confirmed this, saying the drought in Kunene is bad for both people and animals.

“The animals are dying like flies and the people are also starting to die of hunger. I do not know what I am going to do now to help out my people,” Muharukua was quoted as having said.

Assessments indicate it is the worst crop performance in 80 years with cereal output in 2015 declining 43 percent from the year before.

Donors at the recent launch of the African Drought Conference to be held in in August in Windhoek believe it’s important that all role players in the agricultural industry get assistance, so that they are able to provide aid to people who are in dire need of support.

 

 

 

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