Criticism mounts against Prime Minister’s handling of drought support programme

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Popular Democratic Movement Member of Parliament Diederik Vries has voiced concerns regarding the administration of the Livestock Support Programme and the handling of crucial aid for drought-stricken farmers.

He wants Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to explain to the public, specifically farmers how beneficiaries are selected.

He said the Disaster Risk Fund, overseen by the Office of the Prime Minister, had pledged to commence drought relief measures by 1 July 2023.

However, nothing substantive has happened in that regard, raising concerns among many farmers, particularly in the drought-hit regions of Omaheke, Kunene, Hardap, //Kharas, and parts of Erongo.

He expressed dismay over what he perceives as a discriminatory approach and questioned whether Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s stance aligns with the programme’s aim of fostering resilience against climate change and enhancing the livestock value chain.

“The Office of the Prime Minister, through the Disaster Risk Fund, outlined that the long-term strategy of the government’s livestock support programme is to improve the performance of the livestock value chain within the mainstream supply channels, as well as to help farmers develop resilience against growing problems of climate change.

Is it then not discriminatory, inconsiderate and against the aim of the livestock support programme to turn away farmers for subsidy assistance who started moving to new grazing areas before 1 October 2023?” he questioned.

Vries also highlighted concerns about the allocation of livestock marketing incentives, particularly for farmers not eligible for transport subsidies and grazing lease assistance. Further pressing for clarity on assistance for farmers grappling with drought impact from early in the year.

“What will happen to all farmers who have been severely affected by the drought from the beginning of the year?

Will they also be eligible for assistance from the Livestock Support Programme?” he questioned.

During her recent visit to the Erongo Region, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila revealed that the delay in rolling out drought relief food and various incentives to farmers across the country was caused by a N$600 million budget shortfall. She explained at the time that the Disaster Risk Fund currently only had about N$200 million in its kitty, representing a deficit of N$600 million to achieve the planned full roll-out of N$800 million to reach all affected farmers.

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