By Francis Xoagub
OSHAKATI – A showdown is looming between the Flood Emergency Coordinating Office (FEMCO) and the Oshana Regional Disaster Management Committee (RDRMC).
It has since emerged that the N$30 million allocated for floods is not being adequately utilized and that this could be the bone of contention. This revelation came to light at a weekly Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee meeting at the Oshana Regional offices on Wednesday.
Almost 60 000 people are affected by floods this year. Some of the people are homeless and conditions in flood-hit areas remain grim as people return to “almost nothing”, while funds in excess of N$30 million for flood relief seem to be ‘unutilized’, the meeting was informed.
The meeting learned that the region needs money urgently to cover post-disaster costs such as flood assessment.
Responding to questions from stakeholders, RDRMC Coordinator in the Office of the Regional Governor, Albertina Aipinge appeared to be in the dark about the money and instead pointed a finger at the media.
“The media should rather respond to that question, because they reported about the N$30 million allocated (for) flood (victims),” she said.
Ironically, at the last RDRMC meeting on April 13, the Oshana Chief Regional Officer, Johannes Kandombo, urged town councils to submit their claims through the Oshana Town Council Emergency Coordinating office for reimbursement by FEMCO. At the time, he confirmed that N$30 million had been allocated to FEMCO for the current flood situation.
But Aipinge, who also attended the last meeting, seemed to be in the dark regarding the funds and suggested an urgent meeting with the FEMCO office in Oshakati to clarify the matter.
“Since the floods started, we only used our own operational funds to cover the costs and this money is fast running out.
“I agree with you that an urgent meeting should be convened as soon as possible and I will take it upon myself to ask for a meeting next week Wednesday with FEMCO,” she said.
An official in the FEMCO office who asked not be named said, so far, their office only received money for operational activities of FEMCO.
The source could not say how much money was allocated to FEMCO for operational expenses or where the money came from.
The source referred this reporter to the Director of the Emergency Management Unit (EMU) in the Office of the Prime Minister, Japhet Iitenge, for clarity on the N$30 million.
However, when contacted for comment on the issue, Iitenge, who is currently in the north, referred this reporter to the Secretary to Cabinet Frans Kapofi who is the Chairperson of the National Emergency Management Committee that manages the funds. “I’m not privy to comment on the issue,” was all Iitenge could say.
At press time, Kapofi could not be reached for comment. Meanwhile, giving an update on the flood situation Aipinge, said people have endured miserable conditions and are returning home to “almost nothing”.
She, however, added that contrary to previous reports that the rains had faded, rain with heavy winds was recently reported falling at various places. The official also announced that a registration process of all flood-affected people had started and would continue for an unspecified period.
Aipinge explained that local and traditional authorities would coordinate the registration. She would not elaborate.
More than 60 000 people are affected by the floods in the northern and north-eastern regions of the country – the worst ever. The water has, however, started subsiding.