16 Oct 2013 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 16 OCT (NAMPA) Over 400 000 people have been struggling to find food, suffering from malnutrition and selling their assets just to survive during the ongoing drought situation in Namibia.
The Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) Board Chairperson, Professor Peter Katjavivi said this in a media statement issued on Tuesday following a NRCS board meeting here on 14 October 2013.
In April this year, we assessed the drought situation in all 13 regions with the government, the United Nations' agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs).
Over 400 000 people have been struggling to find food, suffering from malnutrition and selling their assets just to survive. I must say there have been overwhelming local and international responses in terms of logistical and financial support, he said.
Namibia is currently experiencing the worst drought in 30 years.
This prompted President Hifikepunye Pohamba to declare a national state of emergency in May 2013, requesting for international assistance to assist rural communities.
The entire country has been affected, but northern Namibia is the hardest-hit.
Katjavivi said the NRCS met the immediate survival needs of people hit by drought with food, water and medical assistance.
The NRCS, which relies heavily on volunteers, has since mid-July established soup kitchens in Opuwo, Khorixas, Rundu, Omega, Elakalapwa and Eenhana.
These soup kitchens provide 22 000 hot meals to the most vulnerable children, mothers and elderly. Children that were weak from malnutrition are now able to walk.
Other highlights from the NRCSs assistance include access to clean water for drinking and cooking through the distribution of water purification tablets to a 21 000 people, while a total of 170 Red Cross volunteers were trained to conduct malnutrition checks, water and sanitation activities and in soup kitchens management.
Meanwhile, Katjavivi also gave an overview of the devastating effects of the heavy rains which poured in the Zambezi Region in December last year and the beginning of 2013.
Rising river levels in the Zambezi River catchment area caused extensive flooding in the Zambezi Region, inundating homes, infrastructures and crop fields.
But with the help of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), assistance was given to 2 500 families and 11 000 beneficiaries.
He expressed appreciation to volunteers who managed relocation camps, provided training in safe water practices, and prevention of diseases like HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis (TB), as well as the distribution of emergency items to those affected by the floods.
Our aim is to ensure better prepared resilient communities that are able to better respond to and recover from disasters such as floods and drought. Long-term change is possible when Namibians support and help each other to make their communities stronger and more resilient to disasters like these, he said.
Katjavivi noted that donations of many generous of people have made it possible for their volunteers and members to reach out with compassion to embrace those made vulnerable by the drought.