New Era (Windhoek)
New Era (Windhoek)
10 April 2008
This year's severe floods in the country will have an undermining effect on Namibia's efforts to achieve its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), says the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr Richard Kamwi.
Kamwi, who was speaking on Monday at Rundu, said floods have made the affected population vulnerable to poverty and ill health.
"This is indeed a set-back in our efforts to meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals," the minister said.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba early this year expressed serious concern about the pace at which the country is moving in terms of achieving MDGs.
He said there are increasing indications that the world is facing development emergencies, particularly in poor developing countries.
While Namibia has made progress in the health, education and other critical sectors, this year' floods will have detrimental effects on efforts aimed at reaching targets as stipulated in the MDGs document.
In the area of health, malaria cases in the northern regions are reported to have reached 2 232. According to Dr Naftali Hamata, seven people have died of malaria since November last year.
Equally, suspected cholera cases continue to rise.
In total, about 71 413 people are affected by floods in northern Namibia alone.
About 1131 houses are affected and mahangu fields covering 146 385 hectares have been destroyed by water.
According to Flood Emergency Management Coordinator Erastus Negonga, 18 554 cattle, 10 702 goats, 1 949 donkeys, two horses and 314 sheep, have died.
In terms of the road infrastructure, 30 roads and bridges have been washed away while 91 schools are affected. This situation disrupted learning as 17 114 learners were temporarily kept out of school.
These statistics show the extent to which efforts aimed at addressing poverty in these regions have been affected.
The Ohangwena Regional Poverty Profile shows that 80 percent of the region's population depends heavily on subsistence farming. Poverty levels stand at 31.2 percent.
Fifty percent or more of the population in the Kavango and Omusati regions equally live in poverty, the UNDP 2007 report reveals.
These regions' poverty profile is likely to change for worse especially that floods came immediately after drought harshly swept through the affected areas.
Drought affected most communal farmers in the country with over 25850 animals dying during the drought period.
With heavy rains and large areas covered by water in the said regions, it is feared that grazing in large parts of the communal areas will be poor as a result of excessive water.
This poses yet another threat to animal life as whatever grass is there might not be enough to sustain the lives of animals until the next rainy season.
Similarly, crop assessment experts say widespread crop losses are expected and families that heavily depend on crop farming are likely to face severe food shortages.
Minister Kamwi says the floods are a result of climate change.
The minister observed that the issue of climate change and its devastating effect on health could affect the country's chance of achieving the MDGs by 2015.
"This year, the health impact of climate change is very evident in different ways in the Omusati, Ohangwena and Caprivi regions. A situation like the current one is strange in its severity as has not been experienced by any of us," the minister said.
He added that flooding which has been caused by climate change is a significant and emerging threat to development in general and to public health in particular.
Those affected by floods have no access to potable water and latrines are submerged, thus compromising the sanitation situation.
There is also insufficient food and inadequate housing and shelter. This, according to Dr Kamwi, poses a high risk to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women and children.
It will cost Government and its development partners among other stakeholders, millions of dollars to normalize the situation.
Government needs more than N$61,2 million over the next three months to feed those affected by floods, Deputy Prime Minister Libertina Amathila said in Parliament recently.
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