GRN ensures safety of drought-relief food amidst delays

Niël Terblanché

In response to growing concerns regarding the distribution of drought relief food in Namibia, efforts are intensifying to confirm the safety of un-sifted maize meal provided to affected communities.

This development comes after Deputy Prime Minister John Mutorwa expressed concerns about delays in delivering essential food supplies to drought-stricken areas, particularly in Kavango East, where more than 44,000 individuals grapple with the harsh realities of an ongoing drought.

During his visit to Kavango East last week, Mutorwa also expressed concerns about the pace of aid distribution.

“The region only received its initial consignment of drought relief food in October last year,” he noted.

Damian Maghambayi, the chairperson of the Kavango East Regional Council, admitted that the governing body only has six trucks that are tasked with navigating challenging roads and terrain to deliver food aid throughout the region.

He added that the lack of vehicles is complicating the matter of food supply distribution.

Helen Likando, Deputy Director for Disaster Management, reported that community members have voiced apprehensions about the quality of the maize meal, a staple in the relief parcels which also include soya mince, tinned fish, and cooking oil.

“All efforts are being made to ascertain whether the un-sifted maize meal meets the safety standards necessary for human consumption,” Likando said.

Likando added that the focus remains firmly on ensuring that the food aid not only reaches those in need promptly but also passes health and safety checks to safeguard the well-being of the drought-impacted population.

Last week the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) commenced with the transition from the in-kind distribution of drought relief food to the Commodity Beneficiary Information Management System (CBMIS) voucher system

Prime Minister, Saara Kuugongelwa–Amadhila launched the CBMIS on 13 October last year at the offices of the Okatana Constituency in the Oshana Region.

The pilot study which was done with 1,200 households and 12 retailers was successful and it will now be introduced to all the 121 constituencies in all the regions countrywide.

The voucher-based model allows for all drought relief beneficiaries to redeem their vouchers from selected and able local retailers in their communities.

Following the decision to roll out the CBMIS to all 14 regions, the team from the Office of the Prime Minister last week engaged retailers from the Oshakati East constituency to introduce and create awareness of the new voucher system.

Councillors of Okatyali, Okaku and Ongwediva constituencies welcomed the transition from the in-kind distribution of drought relief food to the CBMIS.

They said that it is a great initiative by the government because it reduces corruption and delayed distribution.

The councillors said the system has the potential to boost local economies because of the engagement of local retailers in the programme.

The team from the OPM also met retailers in the Berseba and Tses constituencies to introduce the local authorities to the newly launched CBMIS system while also conducting further market analysis.

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