People starving at RuacanaBy: OSWALD SHIVUTE
While the government has committed N$32 million for drought relief for the Kunene Region in July this year, another 20 000 people in the adjacent Omusati Region in the Ruacana Constituency have been hit by hunger and starvation.
The Omusati Region has already started distributing emergency relief food to the more than 20 000 residents, mostly the Ovazemba and the Ovahimba, but has ran out of food supplies.
The affected people are facing hunger following a poor mahangu and maize harvest in the area.
The additional 20 000 people from Ruacana facing starvation bring to 40 000 people in need of dire food assistance from government in the Omusati and Kunene regions.
The constituency councillor, Abasti Iipinge, told The Namibian that he had informed the Office of the Prime Minister last month about the hunger situation, but had not received a reply to his urgent appeal.
The appeal was directed through the Omusati Regional Council, he said.
Iipingi said all the drought relief food in storage in the region had been distributed already and they needed assistance from the national level.
When approached for comment, the director of the Emergency Management Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, Jafet Iitenge, did not deny or confirm the food situation and insisted he be given written questions.
The office of the Omusati governor also confirmed the dire need of food relief for starving people in the Ruacana Constituency. The Omusati chief regional officer, Portasius Andowa, said the governor was aware of the situation and had forwarded the letter from the Ruacana constituency office to the Office of the Prime Minister for urgent attention.
Andowa said they were still waiting for a response from the Prime Minister’s office.
The Ruacana Constituency has a population of about 26 000, whose staple foods are mahangu and maize meal.
Iipinge said about 85 per cent of the people in the constituency had nothing to eat because of poor rainfall.
The most affected villages are Ombuumbuu, Otjovanatje, Okazantu, Okamboola, Otjekwa, Otjorute, Omakange, Onamatanga, Volwater, Dreko, Okakango, Omuhamas, Okomizema, Otjetekwa Oromauwa and Ohanyuna.
“I hope the Office of the Prime Minister will respond soon to rescue these people from starving,” Iipinge said.
When approached yesterday, the traditional chief of the Omakange District, David Tjimuhiva, said the situation was serious and the government should urgently come to the rescue of the thousands of starving people.
Tjimuhiva said there are about 8 000 people in Omakange district, and the majority need food aid because they had no harvest this year.
Tjimuhiva said most of the people are unemployed and survive on the State pensions of elderly villagers.
He said many had started selling their livestock in order to buy necessities.
The headman of Otjovanatje, Michale Mumbaru, said there was no grazing for livestock.