The people who were affected by floods this year are appealing for government intervention in the looming food shortages. The affected communities lost their crops, whole others lost animals that either drowned or got stolen after the owners abandoned them due to the flooding. Namibia this year experienced the worst flooding in decades which affected 500 000 people, displaced 60 000, while 19 000 were relocated to relocation camps in the affected regions.
“I don’t know how I will survive with my family until the next harvest, while I am at the same time worried about what to expect during the coming rainy season”. Says Abraham Shomongula a resident of the Tjihitwa area in the Omusati Region, gazing sadly at the pile of bricks and sand which is the only remaining reminder of his three huts that were destroyed by the floods.
Apart from losing infrastructure, Shomongula also lost 3 herds of cattle, 48 goats and five chickens. The goats were stolen after they were left behind during the relocation, the cattle drowned while the chickens died.
Shomongula and his family spent four months in the Etunda Relocation camp, together with other 53 households, an experience he says was not conducive especially for a family that had its own houses, animals and enough food to feed themselves. He says it is very hard for the family to start all over due to the uncertainty regarding the persistent annual flooding.
Regarding suggestions of permanently relocating people who were flooded, Tate Shomongula welcomed the idea noting that he would be willing to relocate to another place as long as there is enough land for living on and ploughing.
His seventeen year old daughter, Magdalena Abraham is very excited to have returned home as according to her the situation at the tents was not conducive for learning or living. “ I am happy to be back home where I can sleep in my room without sharing it with many strangers, there was just no privacy there.” Says Magdalena.
Meanwhile the situation of 82 year old Aviripina Uruume’s who lives in the Ompundja are of the Oshana Region was more complex as she had to choose to either go to the tents and lose her livestock like Tate Shomungula, or stay. She opted for the latter and this led to her not benefiting from the flood relief assistance that was given to flood victims by the government and other organizations.
Uruume is not prepared to be relocated noting that she cannot leave her ancestral land where she has lived for the rest of her life. She has instead moved her homestead to an area adjacent to the place that was flooded, although that place too gets surrounded by flood water. She is hoping for the situation not to repeat itself.
The Namibian government has announced a food assistance programme worth R55-million that will be used to give food assistance to 247 239 people who badly need food assistance. The communities will also be assisted through the “food for work” programme whereby they will be given food for performing duties even in their fields or rebuilding their homes.