Starving families surviving on water alone


Nuusita Ashipala

A pensioner who is a father of 10, together with his visually impaired wife and three grandchildren, claim to often only have water for sustenance as the family hardly has food to eat because of poverty.

Although the couple does receive the monthly social grant from the government, they claim it is not enough to secure food until the end of the month because of the many mouths that they have to feed.

“By the time we get our grants, we would already have taken maize [meal flour] on credit and much of [the grant] is spent on repaying the debt,” said Hijamitambo Kututa.

A 50 kg bag of maize meal flour costs N$600 and the family needs at least three 50 kg bags of maize to last them for a month.

When New Era visited their home at Oruvandjai, they had not eaten the previous night and had nothing for lunch on the day.

The family was found gathered under a tree with some staring off into space while others share stories.

The young children, including their five-year-old daughter who is living with a disability, were also seated under the tree.

“I was on my way to get another bag of maize on credit, because we are really hungry,” said Kututa.And so the family’s vicious circle of indebtedness continues every month.
Kututa’s family story is similar to that of Kaunahama Hartley who with her eight children solely depend on drought relief food handouts.

“When there is no food, we just drink water and go to bed,” said Hartley.
But like many other families, they only started going hungry following the loss of their livestock to drought. Headman of Oruvandjai Salom Karutavi Hartley is appealing to government to provide the community with water tanks, so that the community may set up gardens to feed the starving households, and thus reduce cases of starving people.

Governor of Kunene Region Angelika Muharukua said over 35 000 people are receiving drought relief food in Kunene region.

She said while some people benefit from the drought relief food, there are those who do not receive food because their areas are only accessible by a helicopter.

“There is hunger everywhere in Kunene, the people are even dying of malnutrition. Even if you look at some people, you can see that they are really hungry,” said Muharukua.

Muharukua said the situation in Kunene can only improve if the area receives sufficient rainfall.
The region has in seven years only received minimal rainfall.


  1. I would like to help this Family. Can the reporter who wrote this article get in touch with me please?


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