May 10, 2002

Drought threat in North

All four regions in Namibia's north-west face a crippling drought due to poor rainfall this season, Regional Governors say. Crop harvests across the North have wilted due to the drought, and drinking water is becoming a problem in some areas. Already Governors in the Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto Regions are reporting that villagers are starting to flock to their offices in search of food aid. Governor of the Omusati Region, Sackey Kayone, whose region has a population of over 200.000 people, told The Namibian newspaper that more then 800 villagers have registered for food aid at his office. Oshana Region's Governor, Klemens Kashuupulwa, said about 7 000 people in his region had indicated that they were in need of food aid. Governor of the Oshikoto Region, Vilho Kamanya, said in many parts of his region mahangu crops had shrivelled up as a result of the drought and that water shortages were beginning to hit villagers. Oshana Governor Kashuupulwa said his office had registered more then 3.000 orphans, under the age of 16, for food aid, while 600 orphans had been registered in Omusati.

The Governors said the sharp increase in the prices of maize meal and other products would add to the woes of people in the North. Tatekulu Phillipus Andreas from Onanhadi village in Oshana Region told The Namibian newspaper that villagers were already feeling the pinch. "We do not know what we are going to give our children. The Government has to stand up now before it is too late and distribute drought relief food to the villagers," Tatekulu Andreas said. The Governors said although they were waiting for the Crop Assessment Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister to assess the extent of the drought, they would call in Regional Emergency Management Units to discuss problems being faced in the regions. (THE NAMIBIAN)

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