Namibia is suffering from severe drought conditions after one of the driest rainy seasons in decades, and the American Red Cross is helping with efforts to deal with food shortages.
The lack of available water is causing a strain on local farmers resulting in food shortage and loss of livestock. Cholera and malnutrition cases are increasing due to the reduction of safe water sources and poor sanitation and hygiene practices.
Rosemary Parnell, a cash-in-emergencies specialist with the American Red Cross returned in early March from a seven-week assignment helping support the Namibia Red Cross with the distribution of cash grants for food.
“The ongoing and severe nature of this drought has brought about a great deal of suffering in Namibia,” said Parnell. “It has caused crop failures, maize productions to drop by 40% and livestock to die leaving people without a way to feed their families.”
The cash grants are being distributed in 32 villages throughout northern Namibia, assisting 2000 families. Each family will receive 300 Namibian dollars per month for six months to help them buy food until the next harvest season.
"The American Red Cross is proud to support the Namibia Red Cross during this response to a disaster that is the worst of its kind in a generation," said Alex Agosti, American Red Cross, regional representative for Southern Africa. "The distribution, which started supporting several hundred families six months ago, is now providing urgently-needed funds to more than 2,000 families per month, so they can put food on the table."
Since the beginning of this operation, the Namibia Red Cross has provided food, seeds, jerry cans and water purification, as well as worked alongside the global Red Cross network and other humanitarian partners to develop an operations plan based on the communities needs.
In May 2013, the government of Namibia declared a state of emergency for the estimated 331,000 people living in rural areas affected by the drought. In July 2013, the American Red Cross committed $70,000 to help the Namibia Red Cross provide immediate relief including water, food, and cash grants to approximately 55,000 people affected by the drought.