28 000 need drought relief

News and Press Release
Originally published
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by New Era Staff Reporter

RUACANA – Following low rainfall received this year, Ruacana Constituency councillor Absta Iipinge says many people have started flocking to his office in search for drought relief food after their crops failed.

Iipinge says about 28 000 people from Ruacana Constituency in the Omusati Region are in dire need of food aid because their crops withered due to erratic rains.

The constituency has been receiving poor rainfall over the past four consecutive years making it difficult for subsistence farmers, who depend on mahangu and maize production to produce any food for their families.

However, since his office last received drought relief food in November, many a time he is forced to dig into his own pocket to assist the most-affected people.

So far, the councillor says he has spent over N$1 000 of his own money to buy 50 kg bags of maize meal that he divides among the community. “For those who come crying at my office, I have to go and buy maize meal bags and cooking oil to help them,” said the councillor.

He also said some of his staff members had to use their pocket money to help the people, who refused to leave the office without anything to eat.

One employee related how a woman (name withheld) once came and dumped her baby at the councillor’s office because she did not have food.

According to the employee, the councillor had to use his own money to buy maize meal so that the protesting woman could go home with her baby.

“The Office of the Prime Minister cannot stop supplying food without informing us and deliver later after two months. But community members are demanding answers as to why we do not have food,” said Iipinge.

He said in January they received food from the Ministry of Safety and Security, which was produced by inmates at Divundu Rehabilitation Centre after he had approached the Permanent Secretary, who responded positively.

He said the safety ministry responded with 8 627 bags of maize meal.

“In January, we received 636 bags of maize meal from the Office of the Prime Minister, however, it was reserved for the San community,” said the councillor.

“Imagine people crying in front of the office and they can see the food, but you have to tell them that it is only meant for the San-speaking community. How do you expect those people to feel and respond?” he queried.

He said the San community is not more special when it comes to people that are affected by the recurrent nationwide drought.

He said he has written a letter to the relevant authorities informing them to give special treatment to the San but not at this time of drought, but there has been no response. “We have no answer. They must at least communicate to the people, because we are accountable to these people. These people are accusing us of eating the food but simply there is no food,” he said.