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A cry for help

Written by on May 27, 2024

… Namibia seeks food aid from international community

President Nangolo Mbumba has made a passionate plea to the international community to donate food to Namibia amid a devastating drought situation.

He was speaking at the official opening of the 2024 Omagongo Festival at Onambango in the Oshana region on Saturday.

His calls come after agriculture, water and land reform minister Calle Schlettwein told international delegates at a recent conference in Bali, Indonesia, that the country is facing its worst drought in 100 years, and that 331 000 households so far have been registered for the government sponsored drought relief programme.

Nangolo Mbumba

The president’s call on Saturday came after he urged police officers on Friday to allow Namibians to import mahangu from Angola.

Mbumba made the call at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ondonga Heritage Shrine in the Oshikoto region.

He acknowledged that some citizens blame him for the country’s drought, but said he has no control over the weather, adding that neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi are also experiencing drought.

He said those seeking maize could look to Tanzania for imports, while those in need of mahangu could obtain it from Angola.
Former minister of agriculture Helmut Angula says farmers should grow drought resistant crops such as cassava and maize.

“Measures can be taken to minimize loss due to drought for the severity of the population,” Angula said.

Last week, executive director in the prime minister’s office I-Ben Nashandi says the government has already registered over 331 000 households for drought relief and budgeted N$825 million for the programme.

However, he says this is only sufficient to assist the initial estimation of 172 200 food-insecure households identified in 2023.

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation reported last week reported that Namibia’s drought relief food is estimated to cost N$1,2 billion.

So far the government has allocated N$825 million and Namibia is appealing to SADC and the international community to augment the shortfall of N$482 million.


Speaking at the World Water Forum in Bali on Monday, Schlettwein said Namibia is facing its worst drought in 100 years.

“This situation is indicative that surface, as well as groundwater resources, will become less reliable. This will have a negative impact on food security, health, hygiene and overall prosperity,” he said.

Namibia, which relies heavily on shared water sources with its neighbours, is actively pursuing collaborative management strategies.
“The future of our children depends on how we address this imminent water crisis today. We must recognise the important role that women and the youth can play in water management and diplomacy efforts,” Schlettwein said.

On Monday last week, SADC heads of state launched a U$5,5 billion (N$99 billion) humanitarian aid appeal to feed over 60 million people facing the effect of El Niño.

Speaking at the official opening of the festival, vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Omagongo Festival coincides with Africa Day commemorated on 25 May.

She said the continent’s natural resources should be fully utalised to benefit Africans and get them out of poverty.

Political scientist Rui Tyitende says Mbumba’s call for international aid is a “colossal national embarrassment”. He says the government has continuously overspent on drought relief and underspent on agricultural investment.

“How can a rich country like Namibia beg from the international community, which exploits its natural resources? As a country, we should be ashamed,” he says.

“The president begging on the international stage significantly undermines our sovereignty,” he says.

The post A cry for help appeared first on The Namibian.

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