WINDHOEK - About twenty families in the Okakarara area have been displaced and left destitute after heavy rains in December destroyed their houses.
According to Okakarara Regional Councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu, the twenty families consisting of about 53 people have been lodging with neighbours and relatives since the disaster and had asked for government assistance in January already, but nothing has come of it.
Kandorozu said he sent out a team from his office on January 1 to do an assessment of the situation in the villages of Omaihi, Orunahi, Omazera and Okavare, which reported back saying the situation was critical. Officials of the regional council also sent a report to the Otjozondjupa governor’s office around mid-January, but to date no aid has been provided to the affected villages.
“We should not follow bureaucracy in cases of emergency,” he complained, adding that the governor’s office was taking too long to respond to the plight of the villagers. According to him it is painful to note that the whole council still has to meet to decide how to respond to the emergency three months after people were left destitute.
He said he wrote a letter to the Emergency Management Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, but has yet to get a response. The only scheduled council meeting is due on April 4, only then would the displaced families know whether or not they would receive help. “It should not be that. The community is suffering,” lamented the councillor.
When approached for comment Gabriel Kangowa, the Deputy Director for Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister, said he was aware of the situation, but added that when he spoke to the Otjozondjupa Governor Samuel Nuuyoma, the governor assured him that “the situation was resolved” and that it was no longer an issue. Kangowa said the matter was now in the hands of the regional government to decide when to issue the necessary materials such as tents and other forms of aid.
Governor Nuuyoma said he was informed last December about the situation, but there are procedures to be followed that Kandorozu was well aware of. According to the governor it is the prerogative of the council to decide when to step in.
He further said since Kandorozu is a party to all deliberations of the council he found it difficult to understand why the regional councillor “ran to the media” while knowing that the issue was on the agenda for the meeting planned for April 4. “If he doesn’t follow procedures, it’s up to him,” said an irate Nuuyoma. He said the situation in Okakarara cannot be treated as an emergency anymore since the rains have stopped and the people could have replaced the property they have lost.