* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Follow on drought response in Namibia
Geneva, 21 January 2014
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
The drought situation in Namibia remains dire. Prolonged dry spells in Southern Africa led to a food and water crisis in Namibia where the respective government called on the international community for support during 2013. The President of Namibia declared a national drought emergency on 17th May, 2013 calling for assistance.
LWF has been responding through ACT appeal NAM131 which is ending on 31 March 2013. The current situation is that the country has lately been experiencing some rainfall and people in the rural areas have started to plant their fields. It is too early though to guarantee a good harvest which is only expected around May/June 2014. Apparently the cash grant in the current Appeal ends with February payout. This is a crucial moment for people who are struggling to make a transition towards a meaningful recovery from drought. It is this current transitional period that people need much support as most of the food stocks are depleted and market prices high for both food and farm inputs like seed. Some people have not even planted full portions of their fields due to lack of resources.
2. Why is an ACT response needed?
The current response in Namibia from the government and others has not been sufficient to curb the effects of the drought on the communities. The following are still of concern:
1. Water supply projects fall far short of what was planned;
2. The funding gap to deliver the planned projects as per the drought response plan is still high;
3. There is a serious concern relating to malnutrition and negative health impacts, particularly relating to cholera and HIV;
4. Food is not reaching the regions from the mills quickly enough;
5. The allocated quantity of food was not sufficient to begin with;
6. There is a high rate of urban migration and urban centers are not included in food distribution plans;
7. Food distribution is highly erratic, ad hoc and not nationally standardized;
Furthermore, a new problem has been identified with the last LWF visits to the communities in the north that not sufficient millet seed is available either for free distribution by the government (as in the past) or which can be bought by the people. In addition, in most households the animals which were used for ploughing the fields have died due to the drought.
3. National and international response
Various institutions have been responding to the drought situation in the country:
a) The Namibian Government is responding through food distribution, rehabilitation and drilling of boreholes and seed distribution.
b) The Namibian Red Cross Society is responding through soup kitchens and lately through cash responses of N$ 300 per household (instead of individual beneficiaries). Although the Red Cross is also operating in the Kunene region, they direct their attention to different communities. This applies to communities where they operate soup kitchens and those where they have cash responses.
c) The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) started with soup kitchens in all regions in Namibia with the assistance of a grant from the Namibian government.
d) The Catholic Aids Action (Caritas) has soup kitchens in certain regions.
4. ACT Alliance response
LWF has been responding to the drought in Namibia since August 2013 through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN). This response has been mainly focused around a cash intervention in four of the hardest hit communities. These four communities are Amperbo in the Hardap Region in the southern part of Namibia, Ongongo in the Kunene Region in the North West of the country, Onangholo in the Omusati Region in the north of the country and Ncaute/Gwashinga in the Okavango East Region in the north east of Namibia. The total figure of those that are benefitting from the cash grant is 5,745.
The cash grant has been useful to the communities in supplementing their efforts towards purchase of food and seed, supporting school going children with school fees and clothing. There is however some mounting anxiety among the beneficiaries on what to do next, when the cash grant comes to an end in February 2014, hence the need for a new appeal to bridge and continue with the pay out until May 2014.
5. Planned activities
LWF through the local churches will continue to respond through the cash intervention in the four communities, providing them with cash until May 2014.
Funding is the main constraint.
Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, Director of Finance (firstname.lastname@example.org)