11 December 2018

Namibia: No Removals of Youth From Food Bank List

Windhoek — The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare refute claims that young people who are food bank beneficiaries will no longer receive food as from next February.

Alarmed beneficiaries, especially young mothers who are mostly home owners in the Goreangab informal settlement, invited the media to the Samora Machel Constituency last week after understandably being informed by street committees that next February will be their last month to receive the monthly food parcels. The affected 'young group' of beneficiaries are those allegedly born during the 1980s and 1990s. They were told this last Thursday when they went to collect their double portion for November and December.

The ministry's spokesperson, Lot Ndamanomhata, says beneficiaries should not fear the introduction of the scope (going digital which the ministry recently introduced) as it is meant to make food bank management efficient. The women who spoke in unison and have been benefiting from the programme for two years, says street committees told them last week that they are young and should go look for employment. Among the aggrieved group is an unemployed 55-year-old Priska Willemse who although has been registered, never received any food. Willemse, a mother of four, survives from selling vetkoek (Fat cakes) at her home.

Young jobless mothers with school age going children are concerned and angered about the hardship they will face next year, as the monthly parcels of food at least guarantees a meal for their households. The programme was launched in Windhoek in 2016 by President Hage Geingob with the aim of fighting poverty and hunger in the country.

Unemployed mother of three children Julia Ararki, (32) fears survival next year without the food bank parcels, stating that one of her child's father is Angolan and doesn't know his whereabouts. "And you know how the communication is with the father of the children if you [are] no longer together. I can't even call (other fathers) for assistance," says Ararki, adding that she does not even get social grants for her children.

She says not getting food parcels will add more to her problems as she is already struggling. "Even if I apply for work, I don't get any. And you know how the economy is, where will I go get a job if graduates are struggling to secure employment," says Ararki.

Similarly, a family of nine from the Goreangab informal settlement will not know where their meals will come from next year as both parents are unemployed. The married couple, Meriam and Joseph Muraranganda, who are 35 and 52 years respectively, and walked about five kilometres to collect their food parcels, say it is already difficult for them to provide for the children as the little money they get is directed to pay water and electricity.

Equally, a 44-year-old man, Jason Egodhi is in the same boat. Egodhi says he has an iron inserted in his leg, following a car accident and can't stand for long hence he is unemployed. "I informed the lady (street committee) and she told me I must get a doctor's letter to support my statement," says Egodhi. He does not get a disability grant. Samora Machel Constituency councillor, Fanuel Shivute, referred the reporter to the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, under which the food bank programme falls.

Ndamanomhata says young people and old people are not excluded per say from the food bank. "The ministry is currently busy with its assessment of the food bank and once that outcome is ready and the process of re-registration outcome finalized, all will be informed as we normally do," affirms he. He encourages all beneficiaries to remain calm assuring them to collect their food bank parcels as indicated on the days provided to them by their constituency offices.

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