Lack of funds puts drought response at risk

Published: 26 May 2016 7:33 CET

By: Thea Rabe / Norwegian Red Cross

The Namibian Red Cross Society is not able to deliver planned drought relief in the region of Oshikoto due, in part, to a lack of funding from international donors who are currently focused on the migrant situation across Europe. However, support from within Namibia itself is also lacking.

“When we look at the crop fields in the Oshikoto region we see that crops are failing, and that for a large number of people, there won’t be any harvest this year,” Bruce Siyambango, head of disaster management at the National Society, says. “If they don’t get help, the people here face starvation.”

Siyambango travels regularly to the Oshikoto region, and is worried about the situation for the people living here. Even if it rains next year, the current drought will have a prolonged affect. It is already a disaster in terms of food security at the household level, he explains.

“The crops are not only important for consumption, but also for the seeds for the coming season,” Siyambango says. “Considering that a large number of crops in this region have failed, people won’t have food, and they also won’t have the seeds to plant in the coming season.”

Namibia, along with most of southern Africa, is experiencing severe drought. The country is having its worst crop performance in 80 years, and more than 550,000 Namibians are affected. Seventy per cent of Namibians are reliant on agriculture, which makes them very vulnerable when a drought of this magnitude hits the country.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched an Emergency Appeal of 954,827 Swiss francs for Namibia in December 2015. It aims to meet the food security needs of 11,500 people affected by the drought, but it is currently only 15 per cent funded and only 1,200 people are being supported. The Namibia Red Cross Society has also launched a three month campaign. Entitled  “Namibian Helping Namibians”, the campaign aims to raise funds from citizens as well as the private sector to support drought-related activities.

“Currently we are not doing any interventions in the Oshikoto region,” Siyambango says. “Unfortunately we did not get enough funding to cover all the regions where we were planning to give support. Oshikoto region is therefore not receiving any drought relief interventions from the Red Cross at the moment.”

The lack of funding could have many reasons, but for Siyambango there is a logical explanation. “We know that the migrant situation in Europe is putting a strain on donors. We have received a lot of support from Europe previously. This year however, the support has not been overwhelming.”

The Emergency Appeal has been extended until the end of July 2016 in an attempt to attract more funding, and assist more people affected by the drought. A crop assessment, expected to be carried out by the government and its partners in the coming months, will also help shed additional light on the food insecurity situation at the household level.

“We believe it’s important that we get some assistance, so that we are able to provide aid to these people who are in dire need of support,” Siyambango adds.