WINDHOEK – The Chinese government on Wednesday donated N$2. 2 million (US$150 000) in cash to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to help alleviate the hunger of thousands of people in need of food aid across the country.
Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Zhang Yiming announced the donation while briefing the media on China-US trade “friction”.
Namibia has experienced a persistently stubborn drought for the past six years, which according to the ministry of agriculture report in April has led to the deaths of 63 700 large and small stock in 2018, estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
“I received a phone call this morning from Beijing that my government has availed US$150 000 towards the Namibian government for its drought relief efforts,” said Zhang, adding that the N$2.2 million will be available upon the Namibian government’s request.
Last month, President Hage Geingob declared a national emergency due to the drought conditions in the country while Cabinet approved a comprehensive drought relief intervention worth N$572.7 million to assist drought-affected communities in communal areas.
The money will cover food assistance, water tanks, livestock management incentives, transport subsidy to and from grazing areas, transport for fodder, lease of grazing area, subsidy for crop farmers, lick supplements and fodder subsidy.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa said at the time that this would be done on the condition that farmers bring down their stock levels to at least 25 cattle and one bull per affected farmer.
China’s donation follows a similar donation by the United States of America (USA) which last week Monday announced the donation of N$1.44 million towards drought relief. The Indian government last week donated 1 000 metric tons of food grains in the form of rice and millet (mahangu).
Government came in for fierce criticism a few weeks back after a leaked letter from the Office of the Prime Minister showed that the government was seeking voluntary donations from public office-bearers and civil servants, with those in the private sector also to be requested.
However, government responded by emphasising that the process is considered as voluntary and no one would be victimised if they elected not to contribute.
Those willing to participate in the scheme were being asked to shed a one-off two percent of their net salary to treasury, in order to help government fend off the advances of drought.
President Hage Geingob, during his state of the nation address this year, remarked: “During these trying economic times, political office-bearers are agreeable to a one-off, voluntary salary contribution of two percent of net [salary], for this year.”