Ohangwena outraged by drought relief theft

Sebastian Ndeitunga

In the wake of thousands of Namibia dollars’ worth of food items aimed at drought relief having disappeared in the Ohangwena region, many have expressed anger and disappointment.

Police in the region yesterday reported the disappearance of more than N$600 000 worth of items from the Ohangwena region’s disaster risk management unit, where food items such as cooking oil, tinned fished, bags of maize meal, blankets and mattresses are kept at Oshikango.

This revelation came at a time when the governor of the region, Sebastian Ndeitunga, revealed that about 48 000 of the region’s residents, both rural and urban, are in dire need of food relief as a result of drought.

Ephraim Haihambo of the Omundaungilo village, when approached for comment by The Namibian on Tuesday, said Omundaungilo alone has about 50 households in dire need of food.

“Our people are starving and it is quite saddening to see people crying due to food shortages. We have a San community here too that highly depends on food handouts and there is just no food,” said headmen of Oidimba ya Nakalunga in the Ohangwena region Gabriel Henkali.

“Even if some people are on pension, they just cannot afford food. Hunger has become a very critical issue in the region, we know that some people have food but most people don’t have anything to eat. We all know that the harvest of 2023 was not sufficient due to the fact that the rain was not good and was very short. In 2023, only about 14 of 30 households managed to receive drought relief.

Now we hear there are those entrusted with the upkeep and distribution of drought relief food and they are busy stealing. It is sad to see that they people can be so cruel and not care for their communities,” said Henkali.

Ndilimeke Kandjembo (86) is from Ekolola village outside Eenhana. She lives with 10 young children at her homestead. They all depend on her pension.

Sitting outside the post office at Eenhana while trying to withdraw some money, Kandjembo said she was on the way to the hospital after feeling unwell.

“I am tired and every time I am just sick. I have too many children to take care of and they have added to my hardship. We are hungry, my pension is not enough to cater to all of them. I have seen my neighbours and people around receive their distribution from drought but my household has never gotten, despite the numerous times they came,” she said.

Chairperson of the Ohangwena Regional Council and the disaster risk management committee Erickson Ndawanifwa has called for calm, urging residents to be patient and wait for the police to carry out their investigations.

“We as the regional leadership are not happy with the news of theft by our officials, we are always claiming with the Office of the Prime Minister that we need more food for the people and we have people who are stealing. It should be noted that no councillors were involved in the theft, as it was carried out by our junior officials in charge of the distribution,” said Ndawanifwa.

“So, let’s calm down and wait for the police to investigate and for the courts to decide if all those implicated are indeed guilty.”

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