30 November 2018

Namibia: Lack of Funding Threatens Youth Centres

YOUTH and multi-purpose centres in the regions are suffering from a lack of equipment, maintenance and trainees due to a lack of funds, a parliamentary report has revealed.

The report released this month was compiled by the standing committee on human resources and community development which visited centres in the Ohangwena, Oshana, Omusati, Kunene, Otjozondjupa, and Erongo regions.

The report shows that the centres do not operate as they should due to financial constraints and staff shortages.

It found that the art centre at Otjiwarongo, which was supposed to encourage and give opportunities to unemployed youth, was in the process of selling some of its music instruments to pay off its debts. Youth offices at Grootfontein were operating without a budget, and all these decisions were taken at the head office in Windhoek without consultation with the regional directorate.

"They have to send submissions for approval to the headquarters in Windhoek whenever they need to participate in or arrange any activity. In most cases, the answer is negative," the report said.

In addition, the offices do not have the necessary equipment for sports facilities or cleaning material.

The Grootfontein offices were also operating with only one vehicle due to budgetary constraints.

At Tsumkwe, the staff complained about the toilets and kitchen that have been out of order, and they also rented out office equipment to generate income.

The youth resource centre at Opuwo operates on a tight budget, and has to function without some of the vital items like toilet paper and cartridges for the printers, while they still have students attending courses for six months. "Students are requested to bring along their own toilet paper," the report stated.

The youth centres have likewise not paid some service providers like NamPost since October 2016.

In a statement delivered in parliament last week, chairperson of the standing committee, Liina Namupala, said the committee observed the lack of proper funding for the full implementation of youth programmes in the regions visited.

The committee also observed a lack of adequate youth facilities in the regions such as training centres, sports stadiums and youth projects for income-generating purposes.

The parliamentarians thus urged supervisors, who are all based in Windhoek, to visit all youth centres on a frequent basis to gain first-hand information on how the centres are performing.

"Constant monitoring will lead to the improvement of service delivery to the youth by attending to the challenges the centres face," Namupala said.

She added that without proper facilities in the regions, the youth may resort to crime as well as alcohol and drug abuse.

The Namibian reported last year that there are about 17 multi-purpose centres and five youth skills training centres in the country.

The youth ministry's budget was drastically cut over the past four years, from about N$700 million in 2014 to N$385 million in 2017. The budget was cut from N$430 million in 2017/18 to N$288 million this year.

It was later revised to N$290 million for the financial year 2018/19.

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