Dealing with the drought in Namibia

Namibia is the 34th largest country in the world and receives the least rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa. Last summer, the country faced its worst drought in 30 years. Almost half of the population, or 1 million people, has suffered from or still suffers from hunger today.

Leticia Aijambo, 69 years old, is a grandmother who lives in Anamulenge, a town located in the Archdiocese of Windhoek. She looks after her seven grandchildren, for in Namibia it is common practice for parents to leave the children with their parents in the village, while they go and look for work in the big cities. At the height of the crisis, Caritas provided Leticia with an essential foods parcel, including beans, rice, oil and sugar. “Our crops were completely destroyed last summer, and we had nothing to harvest and store. The support provided by Caritas has made a real difference. If the rains continue this year, then we should have a reasonable harvest in June. But if it does not rain enough, the situation will be alarming, “she said.
To help the most vulnerable people affected by the food crisis, Development and Peace responded in January to Caritas Namibia’s emergency appeal with a grant of $100,000.  As such, the project will reduce food insecurity and increase the resilience of 16,000 of the most vulnerable families, a total of 96,000 people, in the dioceses of Windhoek, Rundu and Keetmanshoop.

The project aims to distribute 96,000 kilograms of beans, 48,000 kilograms of sugar and 72,000 litres of cooking oil to 16,000 households to complement the distribution of maize flour carried out by the government, while eight parishes in the northern regions of the country have implemented small-scale resiliency projects as well. These have involved installing irrigation systems, planting fruit trees and vegetables, setting up community gardens, building water-harvesting structures and providing agricultural training for 1,200 households. Sixteen other parishes also located in northern regions have organized disaster risk management training workshops for 320 community members.

In the midst of the drought and poor harvests, one of the priests from Anamulenge, Father Lwele, delivered a powerful message during Lent. “Ask forgiveness, pray, and share what you have with others. It is remarkable that in the poorest communities in Namibia, people share what little they have.” This reminds us that the secret of true happiness does not lie in acquiring more but in being more generous.