Observations carried out by the Auditor-General’s office on disaster preparedness within the Office of the Prime Minister directorate of disaster risk management have revealed that a military base being used by Zambezi regional directorate of disaster risk management committee to store foodstuff is not suitable for storing food items.
This is contained in the Auditor-General performance audit on disaster preparedness within the Office of the Prime Minister directorate disaster risk management for the financial years ended 2013/14 to 2015/16 which was the latest available audit conducted.
Although the report did not reveal detailed information as to how the military barrack is not suitable for storing food items, it states that the base lacked the capacity to cater for all disaster related aid.
The pictures of the base placed in the report paint a picture of a warehouse with a leaky roof while the bags of food are seen packed on old dirty pallets. The auditors also found that the warehouse for disaster aid in Hardap region was not properly capacitated (stocked). Only limited food items (maize) are kept but no non-food items such as mattresses and canoes were kept there, making it difficult for residents or even loss of lives during flood times.
The warehouse was also not capacitated in terms of human resources, although a staff structure dated July 2015 was approved by the Public Service Commission. However, at the time of the audit no staff structure was being implemented.
Government and the international community spent millions of dollars to buy food for needy Namibians but year in, year out, food is reported to have been discarded or gets rotten while in the hands of those responsible for distributing it to the beneficiaries.
In recent years there have been claims of negligence levelled at the regional council’s offices over spoiled maize meal for the government drought-relief programme. Some of the food items especially at Omuthiya, Rundu and Grootfontein were found rotten and had to be discarded and declared unfit for human consumption.
Last year it was reported that 32 percent of the Namibian population or 700 000 people were depending on the government’s drought relief programme.
Over 70 percent of the Namibian population derive their livelihoods directly or indirectly from agriculture which is mostly rain-fed agriculture.
The auditors further pointed to various discrepancies. The audit reveals that the process of procurement and financial resources were not fully decentralised.
“Interviews conducted in Khomas region’s Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee revealed that the response of the Office of the Prime Minister is slow since the financial resources, human resources and logistics were not fully decentralised which delays the process,” reads part of the report.
The audit also exposed that no disaster related training was provided to the Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee members in Khomas and Hardap neither was an assessment of training needs done by Regional Disaster Risk Management Committees and proposal made to address such training needs in all Khomas Hardap and Zambezi regions. Saima Shaanika, spokesperson at the Office of the Prime Minister was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.