Red Cross appeals for drought relief assistance

03 Jul 2013 10:20
WINDHOEK, 03 JUL (NAMPA) - The Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) launched an Emergency Drought Relief Appeal here on Wednesday.
The organisation is hoping to raise N.dollars 12,5 million to assist people affected by the worst drought to hit Namibia in 30 years.
Speaking at a media conference, NRCS Secretary-General Dorkas Kapembe-Haiduwa asked the Namibian public and humanitarians across the globe to help the organisation in cash, kind or services in order to aid 55 000 of the most-affected and vulnerable Namibians during the current drought.
?The health and lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the regions are at risk. It is an essential responsibility of all of us to respond to the immediate needs of the people,? she said.
Kapembe-Haiduwa stated that priority will be given to subsistence farmers, female-headed households and the households of chronically-ill people, people living with HIV/AIDS and the elderly.
?Our aim is to make communities more resilient and better able to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters such as floods and drought. To do this, we rely on volunteers and members of the community,? the NRCS Secretary-General noted.
The Emergency Drought Relief Appeal will operate for a year, with emergency and recovery assistance reaching the Kavango, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Kunene Regions ? the regions which have been worst-affected by the drought.
The programme, which is a collaboration between the NRCS, the Namibian Government and other international institutions such as the United Nations Children?s Fund (Unicef), seeks to improve food, water, sanitation, hygiene and nutritional services in the 12 months of its operation.
According to the NRCS, 14 per cent of the Namibian population are in need of urgent food assistance, and 30 per cent of families affected by the drought are existing on one meal a day because significantly less rainfall has caused crops to cease growing, livestock to die and boreholes to dry up.
?Together, we are meeting the urgent need for food security and nutrition, water, health and other basic needs, while simultaneously helping communities recover from this emergency,? said Kapembe-Haiduwa.
In May this year, President Hifikepunye Pohamba declared a national emergency due to the drought conditions in the country, which have already led to the deaths of about 4 000 large and small stock.
Kapembe-Haiduwa explained that national maize production is down by 40 per cent, and there are reports of livestock dying in the Omusati, Omaheke and Kunene Regions, with grazing in other areas becoming a concern.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture has encouraged farmers to sell some of their livestock due to the drought.
Also speaking at Wednesday?s media conference was the Deputy Director for the North-Western Regions in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry?s Directorate of Extension and Engineering, Mildred Kambinda, who said the ministry has implemented a marketing incentive scheme.
She explained that the Agriculture Ministry will subsidise farmers for livestock sold after 01 March 2013, paying N.dollars 300 and N.dollars 70 for cattle and small livestock, respectively.
?Farmers should sell their livestock before they find themselves in devastating situations,? Kambinda advised.
Other measures aimed at helping to reduce the effects of the drought include subsidies for the leasing of grazing land, as well as transport subsidies for grazing.