Khorixas residents of Donkerhoek informal settlement claim they are surviving on animal feed, which they cook to eat in the absence of drought relief food provisions. The shocking claim was allegedly made by Natalie !Nawases, a mother of two children during a community meeting organised by the Ada Khaibasen committee at Eddie Bowe Primary School hall last Sunday.
Cecil !Ganeb, a community activist who attended the meeting and brought the matter to the attention of New Era Weekend says he does not know exactly what type of animal feed the woman and her family eat. “She told the meeting ‘I am one of the people who eat animal feed. I prepare and eat it’,” !Ganeb narrated to New Era Weekend.
New Era Weekend went in search of !Nawases and managed to locate her house in the settlement. She was however not at home, attending a prayer meeting at a local church, according to her neighbours.
New Era Weekend also spoke to Jocobeth Futika, the chairperson of Ada Khaibasen committee, who said that !Nawases’s claims prompted the committee to seek an urgent meeting with the special advisor to the Governor of Kunene for Kunene south, John //Khamuxab, to brief him on the concerns raise in the meeting especially on residents eating animal feed.
Futika described the meeting with //Khamuxab as fruitful. He said the regional council officials have promised the Ada Khaibasen committee that the concerns raised would be addressed with the required urgency.
When contacted for comment //Khamuxab confirmed that the meeting took place with the Ada Khaibasen committee and that he would urgently dispatch food provisions to the area.
“Right now I am driving back to Opuwo and would intervene [as soon as possible]. I will dispatch the maize meal donated by Trustco,” //Khamuxab said when contacted for comment this week Tuesday.
Governor of Kunene Angelika Muharukua, when contacted for comment, said that she was not aware of people eating animal feed and would ask the regional council chairperson Julius Kaujova to investigate the matter.
However, the intervention by //Khamuxab came a little too late for some of the residents, who accuse Khorixas constituency councillor Elias Xoagub of dereliction of his duties as a councillor.
“There is nothing that the government or Khorixas constituency councillor does. In Erongo people received assistance through the governor’s office but here especially in Kunene south, people whose livelihoods depend on livestock, eat animal feed because animals are dying and they have no source of food,” said a furious !Ganeb.
When contacted for comment Xoagub told New Era Weekend that there are preparations to have a proper meeting with the community on the drought situation in the constituency. He requested to be contacted after the meeting with the community had taken place. “You call me at a wrong time and expect a full report. Call me after the meeting,” Xoagub said.
Futika said the Ada Khaibasen public meeting arouse out of the need to discuss the impact of the drought in the area. The Ada Khaibasen committee meeting also discussed the fact that there has been no assistance rendered to Kunene south where animals are dying compelling communal farmers to sell their remaining livestock on ‘give-away’ prices.
“Is there assistance coming to us? When will it be nearer? We only read in the newspaper that Kunene received donations or assistance and those people will benefit but later we found out that not even a bale of animal feed is given to Kunene south,” questioned Futika, who owns a few general dealer stores throughout the Kunene south.
!Ganeb called upon Muharukua to attend to the drought, poverty and to the lack of government programmes implementation in the southern part of the region. He also appealed to the Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare to intervene urgently. “What is Ministry of Gender and Child welfare and poverty ministries doing to address poverty and assisting people like !Nawases. The revelation was shocking, the attendees just keep quiet and we were all speechless,” said !Geneb.