May 14, 2003

West Caprivi needs drought aid, as floods in Eastern Caprivi continue

As eastern Caprivi still battles floods, people in west Caprivi are crying out for drought relief food which they say has not been delivered since February.

Affected residents in Muitjiku village and Omega told Nampa on Friday, April 9, hat the last time food was distributed to their areas was towards the end of February. Kxoe Chief Thaddeus Chedau confirmed that villagers in those areas face hunger because of a serious food shortage. "We do not know why these areas were left out, but other areas of (the) Mukwe constituency are benefiting from the same drought relief programme," Chedau said. He appealed to the Regional Emergency Management Unit (Remu) to investigate what was hampering the food distribution process in that part of the counter.

Meanwhile, an official in the Ministry of Lands Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Jake Govague, noted that about 2 700 people are in need of food aid in areas around Muitjiku up to Omega. "There is a need to speed up the distribution of foodstuffs to these areas, as people are seriously facing starvation," Govague said. According to him, food deliveries were being delayed because Remu transports the food from the main warehouse at Omega to the sub-warehouse at Mukwe. Govague confirmed that the people in those areas only received food during February and that until now "nothing was received again". Remu chairperson Sebastian Karupu could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the Namibian government announced it was allocating N$5 million to help thousands of people affected by floods in the eastern Caprivi. The announcement follows President Sam Nujoma's visit to the region on Monday, April 12, accompanied by top Government officials.

The funds will be drawn from the Contingency Fund set up for emergencies such as drought and floods. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said in a statement that should the number of helicopters and speedboats available be insufficient for evacuations and for transporting supplies "more sophisticated equipment" might be sourced from Angola and South Africa. Government also appealed to Namibians with boats and helicopters to make such equipment available for the evacuation of the victims "as a humanitarian gesture".

Government says its initial assessment shows that "the floods have tremendously impacted on shelter and household items, leaving (thousands of) people homeless and without sufficient clothing and blankets". In addition: "Food security has been drastically affected. Most communities have finished their food and therefore need to be assisted with food and other needs. All roads have become impassable and this makes it difficult for all service providers to reach the people... the preliminary assessment reveals that about 500 people, including children are affected," the Government statement says. Livestock are drowning and falling prey to crocodiles, while grazing areas are flooded and some huts have been submerged in water and abandoned. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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