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Omusati councillors feed hungry from own pockets

Several constituency councillors in Omusati region say they are forced to use part of their salaries to feed their communities as they have not received drought relief food in a while.

One of them, Johannes Iiyambo, a councillor for the Otamanzi contituency in the Omusati region, says hungry residents show up at his office looking for food on a daily basis.

Iiyambo, who is serving his second term, says he feels helpless, as the area has not received drought-relief food for a while.
He says he is faced with more than 20 hungry people on a daily basis.

Iiyambo made this revelation while visiting Ongandjera king Johannes Mupiya, on the challenges faced by the constituency, at Etilyasa village on Saturday.

The councillor said his constituency has not recorded any harvest for this year, and the government has not started providing drought-relief food to the residents yet.

“However, we received information last week that the food will be distributed from 1 October,” he said.

Iiyambo said the distribution of food will continue until June next year, while animal feed will be distributed from 1 October to March 2024.

He urged Mupiya to share his food surplus with the hungry community until drought-relief food is delivered.

Iiyambo also urged headmen and headwomen from his constituency to register all the households in need of food.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Iiyambo said 1 800 people from his constituency are in dire need of food.

He said sometimes he is forced to buy them food with his own money.

“Sometimes, when I do not have money to buy them food, I get food on credit and pay at the end of the month,” he said.

He said some residents of his constituency steal and slaughter other people’s goats and donkeys, because they are hungry.

Iiyambo is not the only councillor feeding people from his pocket.

Etayi constituency councillor Hans Haikali says he also buys some residents food.

“Half of my salary goes to the food of hungry residents. There is nothing we can do when our people are hungry.

“We just need to buy for them from our pockets until such time that we get food from the government,” Haikali says.

Epupa constituency councillor Kuunoko Tjimutambo says the residents of his constituency receive drought-relief food, but it is not enough.

“It does not matter how big the family is, whether you are 20 or 30 in the house, you get a 10kg bag of maize meal, one bottle of cooking oil, and four tins of fish. This is not enough,” he says.

Johaness Iiyambo

Tjimutambo says the whole constituency is severely affected by the drought.

Some residents have moved to Opuwo and to other regions, he says.

Omaheke governor Pijoo Nganate says the Aminuis constituency has been hit the hardest by drought in the region.

He says the government’s drought-relief food should be extended to urban areas as there are also hungry people at towns.

“The food stuff should be given on a monthly basis, not quarterly as is the case now,” the governor says.

Nganate says the government should also provide farmers with less than 10 animals feed.

The Namibian on Friday reported that the executive director in the Office of the Prime Minister, I-Ben Nashandi, said the number of people expected to experience high levels of food insecurity in Namibia would soon rise to 695 000.

“The government will roll out a drought-relief programme to the tune of N$892 million.

“It is projected that the number of people expected to experience food insecurity from October 2023 to March 2024 would rise to 695 000 (26% of the population),” he said.

From July to September this year, 579 000 people in Namibia were facing acute food insecurity and required urgent action to reduce food gaps and protect livelihoods.

Minister of information and communication technology Peya Mushelenga on Thursday said the Cabinet supports the continuous management of livestock support and drought relief programme logistics.

“The Cabinet has authorised the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises to source funding for the shortfall in the national emergency disaster fund for the proposed drought relief interventions,” he said.

Mushelenga said the Office of the Prime Minister has been authorised to source private vehicles to be used in the distribution of drought-relief food.