The story reported this week (and last week in this paper) about families in Khorixas surviving on animal feed is an indictment of the urgent need to look at Kunene as a whole, with a view to help that region.
True, Namibia is enduring a devastating drought. But with the resources at our disposal and the small population we have, there is no justification for any citizen of this country to starve to death – or to avoid that tragedy by feasting on animal feed.
Among all administrative regions of the country, Kunene suffered the most from drought. In fact, the region has a longer dry spell than any other region in the country and its governor, Angelika Muharukua, is on record asking for the region to be declared a special case.
The governor is not just puffing hot wind. She is on the ground and is therefore a witness of the horrors brought upon the region by the drought. Drought aside, Kunene is simply underdeveloped and, as such, unemployment is very high among its residents. With no food from the land, the next natural thing to do is to buy food from outlets in the region.
However, the circumstances are such that a dollar is hard to come by for the majority of the residents. Many months ago, disturbing news emerged out of that region where seven members of a certain family died after eating poisonous residue of a traditional brew.
But whether we – as a nation – have looked at the bigger picture of that tragedy rather than confining it to a mere incidence of a concoction gone wrong is up for debate.
These are acts of desperation. We, therefore, owe it to Kunene to see to it that we help them overcome the devastating challenges of drought, underdevelopment and unemployment.
Some residents of that region, especially in the northern part, have lived a nomadic life for way too long and, to government’s credit, there have been attempts to usher them into a new era of doing things. There are concerted efforts to put them into school and also to make them active participants in the country’s mainstream economy.
But before we talk about active participation in the economy and school enrolment, it is of utmost importance that we first address hunger of the stomach among the residents of that region.
When people have had a meal, they would have courage and the energy to indulge in other activities. Right now, what is uppermost on the mind of an average Kunene resident when they wake up is where the next meal would come from. And that is not the ideal Namibia anyone had dreamed of living in.