COUNCILLOR for Opuwo Urban constituency Uapendura Mupya yesterday called for the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office to be increased so that the drought relief programme can include unemployed people.
He was speaking in the National Council during the discussion of the votes on the Appropriation Bill of 2016.
Mupya said the people in the Kunene region are suffering more from drought because part of the region is made up of the Namib desert.
“We have a lot of these workers who lost their jobs because the farmers de-stocked, and as a result they are out there on the streets. Imagine, they have children to support. That is why I think they should also be given drought relief aid,” he stated.
He added that the region is experiencing a lot of challenges with regards to the distribution of drought relief food items due to transport problems; the vastness of the region; a lack of standards in place for the frequency of the supply; and the number of bags to be given per family.
The normal procedure caters for old people, breastfeeding mothers, children under the age of six and pregnant mothers, who would get a bag of maize meal each.
“Sometimes you look at how big the family is, and choose how many bags you could give. People sometimes get one bag for a month in that one round, and if there’s a second round for handing out drought relief food items, they get it twice per month with some relish or other things,” he explained.
He said there is thus a need to create a market which will cater for those who have livestock in communal areas beyond the red line.
Mupya said a lot of communal farmers keep up to a hundred heads of cattle, which is why a local market should be created where they could supply food to hostels or for special events.
Councillor Melania Ndjago of the Karibib constituency agreed with Mupya on increasing the OPM’s budget.
“It should be increased so that it can cater for further animal feed in order to meet our farmers halfway. We should also take the initiative to cut grass and sell it to farmers at a reasonable price, and by doing so create employment,” she reasoned.
Councillor Lonia Kaishungu then raised concerns about the water crisis in the Ohangwena region as a result of the drought.
She said the wells, rivers and boreholes are all dry, and people in the area do not have enough water to sustain themselves or their livestock.
“We need emergency water supplies,” she stated.