A bag of maize meal, oil and soup for drought relief

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Some of the country’s villagers and regional councillors claim the government provides households with only one 12,5kg bag of maize meal, a bottle of cooking oil and two packs of soup per month as drought-relief intevention.

They say this is not enough.

Etayi constituency councillor Hans Haikali and Zambezi governor Lawrence Sampofu, however, say this is better than nothing.

The government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, started distributing drought-relief food last month.


Petrina Iiyambo from a village in the Ogongo constituency in the Omusati region, says her family of six people received food items last week.

She says it is not enough to feed her family with.

Petrus Erastus, also from Ogongo, says households with more than one pensioner do not receive enough drought-relief food either.

“This is not fair, because one of the pensioners may squander his or her money and not buy food for the house,” he says.

Erastus says one bag of maize meal does not feed the seven people under his roof.

Three of four bags per household may be enough, he says.


Haikali on Wednesday confirmed that drought-relief beneficiaries in his constituency received one bag of maize meal, cooking oil and two packs of soup each.

He said this may not be enough, but he appreciates the government’s efforts to mitigate the disastrous impact of drought.

“The food is not enough as the number of people in need of food has also increased,” he said, adding that each family would continue to receive food each month.

Sampofu yesterday said it is a requirement that each household get one bag of maize meal.

“We have started receiving food last month, and other constituencies have already gotten. The food is not enough as some households have about three or six people.

“The food will not last for the whole month, but it is better than nothing,” the governor said.

Okorukambe constituency councillor Rocco Nguvauva said at his constituency in the Omaheke region each family is given one bag of maize meal, four tins of fish, and one bottle of cooking oil.

“This does not make a difference at all. People are unemployed. Another problem we have is a directive from the Office of the Prime Minister that the San community should not benefit from the drought-relief food as there is a special programme for them.

“They get the food after four months. What are they going to eat?” he asked.


The chairperson of the Omusati Regional Council, Andreas Shintama, on Wednesday said he was not aware of what exactly residents receive.

“I don’t want to confirm something I don’t know,” he said.

The Namibian in September reported that the executive director in the Office of the Prime Minister, I-Ben Nashandi, said the number of people expected to experience high levels of food insecurity in Namibia would soon rise to 695 000.

“The government will roll out a drought-relief programme to the tune of N$892 million.

“It is projected that the number of people expected to experience food insecurity from October 2023 to March 2024 would rise to 695 000 (26% of the population),” he said.

From July to September this year, 579 000 people in Namibia were facing acute food insecurity and required urgent assistance.

Ongenga constituency councillor Mathew Shikongo said his constituency has not received drought-relief food yet.

Ohangwena, Omaheke regional governors Walde Ndevashiya and Pijoo Nganate promised to find out how many drought-relief maize meal bags each family in their regions receives.

Ohangwena Regional Council chairperson Erickson Ndawanifa has also confirmed that families receive one bag of 12,5kg maize meal each.

He said this is because the region has received less drought-relief food from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“The Office of the Prime Minister has identified that there are 16 000 households in the Ohangwena region that are in need of drought-relief food, while the total number we gave them is 46 000,” Ndawanifa said.

According to Ndawanifa, the data of people in need of food is done at national level.

“We tried questioning how they arrived at 16 000, but we have had no response till now,” he said.


Ndawanifa said the region was promised 20kg bags of maize meal, but has received only 12,5kg bags.

He said a family of more than six people requires at least six bags, six bottles of cooking oil, and 12 tins of fish.

“Imagine getting a 12,5kg of maize meal for a family of eight people that is supposed to last a whole month until the next delivery.

“How do you expect this family to survive? People had a poor harvest this year, and are struggling already with water, now add food – it’s a crisis,” he said.

The chairperson requested community members to be patient while the regional leadership is engaging with the central government.

“I know that there is no food at all in many families. There was poor rainfall and the struggle for food security is real. People need food, and at the moment we can’t satisfy them with the drought food we have received,” Ndawanifa said.


Nashandi yesterday said the number of food items delivered to each region is consistent with vulnerability assessments and analysis of the estimated number of food insecure households.

“The figures are available per region. But these numbers are contingent until confirmed registered households are validated,” he said.

He added that the government has increased the amount of maize meal or mahangu to 20kg per family or household.

Other items per household per month are 750ml of cooking oil, 400g of tinned fish, or the same quantity of soya mince or beans.
“We enforce adherence to criteria, and we shall remain within the same range as estimated. Where variations to criteria exist, they would have to be validated.

“Secondly, drought relief is not the only solution to food insecurity,” he said.

Nashandi said the drought programme targets only those identified as food insecure.


In his mid-term budget review speech this week, minister of finance and public enterprises Iipumbu Shiimi announced that his ministry has set aside a total of N$643 million to supplement the drought-relief provisions under the Office of the Prime Minister, covering both food distribution as well as support to affected farmers.

“Going forward, the Office of the Prime Minister has started piloting an alternative drought-relief delivery mechanism through utilising vouchers so as to minimise the associated administrative costs, consequently creating an opportunity to make more food available to vulnerable people,” he said.

Furthermore, Shiimi said his ministry is engaging the farming community and other relevant stakeholders, such as Agribank and the Meat Corporation of Namibia, to explore further measures to assist farmers to better cope with the prevailing drought.

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