Evicted farm workers receive food aid
BAUMGARTSBRUNN - The first round in the distribution of drought relief food to evicted farm workers commenced yesterday at Baumgartsbrunn.
The rural settlement of Baumgartsbrunn is situated in the Windhoek Rural Constituency, about 35 km from Windhoek. Governor of the Khomas Region, Laura Mcleod-Katjirua, handed 117 bags of 12.5kg of maize meal to the impoverished residents of the settlement.
One of the residents of Baumgartsbrunn, Erna Kharuxas, explained the dire situation they find themselves in, emphasising that “apartheid is still rife in the area” and they still live like they did before Namibia’s independence 23 years ago. “We are continuously kicked off farms where we work and this has left us homeless,” she said to explain why so many people have settled at Baumgartsbrunn. Kharuxas alleges that farm owners sell the livestock of workers without permission before kicking them off the land. “We live in constant fear of being chased off the farms we work on,” she added.
The settlers live on approximately 300 hectares of land where about 200 families and 300 animals share whatever little resources there are.
Most families settled in 2008 when the owner, a certain Mathias Blick, granted a few of his farm workers permission to settle there after being evicted from other farms.
“The number of settlers is increasing because we are always kicked off the farms where we work,” she complained, adding that they have nowhere else to go. She pleaded with the government to resettle them permanently, because should the land they are currently occupying be sold, they would become completely homeless.
“All the farms in this area are white owned, we have nothing, but some of us were born and raised here,” added Kharuxas. “We have also requested that government clean existing boreholes for us to get clean drinking water,” she said and further revealed that their request was declined since they are not formally resettled at Baumgartsbrunn.
As a result, the settlers depend on a government truck that delivers water at the settlement every two weeks. However, when the water supply is depleted they resort to asking for water from the adjacent school. To add to their misery, the settlers are without ablution facilities and electricity.
“We survive by struggling day to day to get food in our stomachs,” said another resident at the settlement, Yvonne #Ouses. “We are dirt poor,” stressed #Ouses, adding that the harsh winter conditions are catching up with them in their corrugated iron shacks.
“Some of us have not eaten since yesterday,” she said, adding that she is willing to start a garden if she could receive help with seeds. According to #Ouses, they fear for the survival of their livestock, considering that there is no grazing available. But no livestock deaths have been reported as yet.
The office of the governor plans to hand out over 3 700 bags of maize meal to approximately 30 settlements in the constituency up to May 26, covering Ongombo West, Areb, Duruxaus, Khanubeb and Farm Versailles.
Governor Mcleod-Katjirua reiterated that Namibia is drought stricken hence the need to distribute drought relief food to the most vulnerable and destitute citizens of the country. She quoted President Hifikepunye Pohamba who is on record as having said: “"I do not want to see a Namibian dying because of the drought.” The governor further explained that the distribution is only an interim measure, while government plans for a better drought relief programme inclusive of maize meal and relish.
She added that the entire Khomas Region is slated to receive 40 000 bags of 12.5kg of maize meal, which would mean a bag of maize meal per household per month.
Mcleod-Katjirua urged the community to use the maize meal for personal consumption and not for sale. "I hope it will make a difference in your daily diet until we come back," she said, adding that through the Office of the Prime Minister, the government would do everything to ensure that no deaths result due to the drought.